Officials build relationships with transfer students

Student Writer Breanna Littrell

UNA is working on strengthening relationships with local community colleges.

The university is collaborating with Northwest-Shoals Community College, Bevill State Community College and Calhoun Community College, said Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Ron Patterson.

The schools are working together to allow reverse transfers between two-year and four-year schools. Reverse transferring allows students to gain credit for degree completion from both institutions, Patterson said.

With a reverse transfer, students will be able to start their initial educational studies at one of these two-year community colleges and then transfer to UNA and complete their 120-hour degree requirement, he said.

They will then be able to revert 60 of those hours back to the community college from which they transferred and obtain their associate degree from that school, along with their bachelor’s degree from UNA, he said.

Patterson said he expects the Alabama Community College System and all four-year institutions to sign the Memorandum of Understanding, within the next couple of months, which will approve reverse transfers.

Other plans to attract transfer students to campus include an event planned for transfer students called Community College Day, Patterson said.

UNA will celebrate Community College Day at the home football game against North Greenville Oct. 22, Patterson said.

The university is inviting all who are interested to come and visit the campus, he said.

After transferring to UNA as an undergraduate, graduate student Jennifer Sewell loved the campus so much, she decided to stay to obtain her masters degree in business administration, she said.

Unlike larger universities such as the University of Alabama and the University of Auburn, UNA was an easy transition, Sewell said.

UNA is also starting to reach out to over 25 other community colleges across Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi, Patterson said.

UNA allows in-state tuition to full-time, undergraduate students who are receiving at least $1,000 of scholarship money from UNA. Exceptions include scholarships from outside organizations and the UNA Foundation, he said.

Transfer Coordinator Lauren Beasley said she visits these community colleges to help increase the visibility of UNA on their campuses.

Associate Director of Admissions Julie Taylor conducts transfer workshops at these campuses to give students an opportunity to learn about UNA and have their questions answered, she said.

In addition to the free food at these workshops, students attending who wish to apply to UNA have the $35 application fee waived, she said.

“We have a beautiful, beautiful campus, a wonderful institution in terms of the people that are here, faculty, staff and students,” Patterson said. “So, we are trying to increase foot traffic on our campus.”

Patterson said UNA is striving to provide better resources for transfer students.

Senior and Northwest-Shoals transfer Ben Wilson said he chose UNA because he has always lived in the Shoals area and knew that it was an excellent school.

Junior Jeanna Wade said she also transferred from Northwest-Shoals and chose UNA because of the proximity to her home and the academics. Wade particularly loved the new science building because of the cutting-edge labs, she said.

Patterson said he is also working on ideas to welcome more transfer students to campus and to make them feel more at home if they choose to stay.

Transfer students who are interested in attending UNA could be able to visit campus on “Transfer Fridays” to attend tours and information sessions about financial aid and advising, Patterson said.

Patterson would also like to create transfer centers or spaces where transfer students could hang out together on campus, he said.

Patterson hopes UNA is able to reach more students, he said.

“It’s a hidden gem,” he said. “We just really have to get the word out there that you can do so much more here and meet so many people that will have a lasting impact on your life.”