Analysis of the Transition Process for UCF Transfer Students
Being a new student in college is a difficult adjustment. What many people don’t realize is that being a transfer student is an even bigger adjustment. Not only do transfer students need to learn the ropes, but they have to have everything figured out in a much shorter period of time when compared to incoming freshman. This is the case in every college, but as a transfer student at the University of Central Florida, this issue hits close to home for me. It’s difficult to get involved on campus when you feel thrown into a system you know nothing about, aren’t sure where to go to for resources, and are short on time. This lack of accessible information is where the problem resides. Incoming transfer students at UCF who want to get involved on campus don’t know how. This lack of knowledge prevents them from getting involved on campus or in student organizations. This lack of information also contributes to a lack of identification with the UCF student community and a lack of school spirit from these transfer students. The university has tried to solve this problem in a few different ways, including building a website for transfer students and by giving transfer students their own orientation. Ultimately though, these rhetorical approaches have failed to solve the issues at hand. As they now stand, the orientation and transition processes for incoming transfer students at UCF are inadequate. I will devote the rest of this analysis to discussing previous attempts by the university to fix this problem, as well as where the rhetorical breakdown occurred.
Upon being accepted into UCF, transfer students are first introduced to the campus through a transfer student orientation. During this orientation, students are brought into a large dining hall where they view a PowerPoint and listen to a lecture by university leaders and advisors. The entire orientation lasts for only a few hours, in which time these speakers lecture to students on how to select a major, how to sign up for classes, and how the students may need to adjust their study habits in order to meet higher level course standards. While all of this is valuable information for incoming transfer students to hear, the speakers barely touch upon how to get involved on campus, in regard to activities and organizations. This contrasts with the freshman orientation, which lasts for a full day and includes a campus tour with a current student who is informed and ready to answer questions. While the transfer orientation offers a campus tour, it’s so early in the morning that it’s difficult for many students to feasibly attend. Despite the fact that the transfer student orientation lacks vital information, UCF does direct transfer students to a transfer student website–which brings me to my next point.
The transfer and transition services website created by UCF was another attempt at solving the lack of information issue surrounding the transfer process. The website includes information on academic advising, types of majors, scholarships, and how to find an advisor (Transfer). While it is thorough in that regard, by only offering academic information students are missing out on a large part of the college experience. Any transfer student who visits this website trying to find information on campus involvement or student organizations would be thoroughly disappointed. Therefore, it does not do a good job at articulating the campus culture, encouraging involvement, or fostering school spirit. The website also looks outdated and cluttered, and is poorly organized, all of which detract from the website’s credibility and discourage student usage of this informational tool.
While UCF has clearly tried to address this issue, I believe their attempts have failed because they have misidentified the issue within this rhetorical situation. All of the materials and communications they created to improve the transition process for transfer students provide information about academic services. While this is useful information for incoming transfer students, it doesn’t solve the problem at hand. As I stated before, transfer students want to get involved on campus and identify themselves within the community as one of many UCF Knights, but they don’t know how they can get involved or how they can participate in campus activities.Because of this, the current materials UCF provides to transfers do not address the problem at hand. UCF made the mistake of assuming that transfer students need only academically-driven information in order to make the transition as smooth as possible. They underestimated the fact that many transfer students are just as lost upon entering the UCF community as freshmen are. Not only are they just as lost, they are also tasked with the difficult issue of having to figure things out very quickly if they want to make the most of their campus involvement and actually have an impact on campus during their short, two year stay.
There is also a breakdown in UCF’s attempt to create a useful transfer and transition services website. It’s already been stated that the information on this site is problematic since it doesn’t address the issue in this rhetorical situation, but the site itself actually represents an issue of its own. The website is cluttered, disorganized and outdated. In a time where the current generation of students is so connected with the internet, this is a problem in and of itself. When transfer students, or any person in the demographic, needs information about something they use the internet. Because they use it so often, they have an expectation that every site the go to will meet a certain set of standards. They expect websites to be user-friendly, meaning that the information is clearly organized, easily identifiable and easily accessible. People in this generation using the internet don’t want to waste their time scouring through a website trying to find a tiny piece of information buried at the end of a page. They want to be directed to the information in an easy format that’s also easy on the eye. Unfortunately, this is something UCF did not do well. There are links all over the page to different services and information, rather than having the links organized under topic consistent tabs (Transfer). Furthermore, the page is outdated. It simply doesn’t meet the standards of design expected of today’s web pages. Both of these weaknesses detract from the site’s ethos, causing students to disregard the website as a helpful tool. Clearly, UCF did not fully consider the audience that would be utilizing this webpage. Had they really analyzed the audience, they would have designed it and organized it in a more up to date manner that this audience has come to expect.
Ultimately, UCF has tried to address this problem through multiple methods but has failed. The university had the right idea by creating a transfer student orientation and building a website for transfer students, but their analysis of the issue and the audience within the rhetorical situation fell short. A problem still exists in regard to how transfer students are able to find information bout UCF. With the current information and communication available, transfer students are still struggling to find out how they can get involved in campus activities and organization in order to identify themselves within the UCF community as proud UCF Knights. However, with the right adjustments, this issue can be resolved. By creating a more user-friendly, organized website with a modern design that meets the expectations of students today, transfer students will have a much easier time using this interface. Furthermore, by providing more of the information about campus involvement and student organizations, transfer students will have the knowledge they desire, which would improve the issue at hand.
Analysis of the Transition Process for UCF Transfer Students