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Transfer Students: Tailoring A Freshman Program To Their Needs

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

FPD2 - First-Year Advising and Transition

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1297.1 - 13.1297.20



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Paper Authors


Jean Kampe Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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J. C. MALZAHN KAMPE is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She received a Ph.D. in Metallurgical Engineering from Michigan Technological University, an M.Ch.E. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware, and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Michigan Technological University.

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Whitney Edmister Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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WHITNEY A. EDMISTER is the Assistant Director of the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She received her M.S. in Counselor Education, Student Affairs Administration from Radford University, and M.S. in Career and Technical Education and B.S. in Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise both from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

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Christi Boone Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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C. L. BOONE is the Coordinator of Academic Support Services for the College Of Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She received her M.A. & B.A. degrees in English from Radford University.

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Bevlee Watford Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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DR. BEVLEE A. WATFORD, P.E. is the founding Director of the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity, established in 1992. Watford received the ASEE 2003 Minorities in Engineering award due to her efforts to increase the recruitment, retention, and graduation rates of under-represented students in engineering. She has recently returned to Virginia Tech as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Engineering Education following a 2 year rotation working for the National Science Foundation as a program manager in the Division of Undergraduate Education.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Transfer Students: Tailoring a Freshman Program to their Needs Abstract

At a large public university, the class entering the College of Engineering comprises freshmen and transfer students, and the latter are predicted to increase in number in the coming years. When transfer students move to a university engineering program, they often encounter a “Freshman Program” that impedes full articulation in transfer to the university. Freshman programs that are designed to inform traditional freshmen of the available engineering majors, and to prepare them for academic success within those majors, usually have a full year of required “Introduction to Engineering” type courses. These courses are usually prerequisites either for entry to the degree-granting programs or for subsequent required courses in any engineering path. Transfer students who cannot cover these introductory freshman engineering courses with transferred credits are often essentially relegated back to freshman status and to taking the freshman program courses—and this is not a good situation. At Virginia Tech, about 150 transfer students on average enter the College of Engineering (CoE) each fall, and anywhere from about one quarter to one third of them require the freshman program courses. In past years, we sprinkled these transfer students among the traditional freshmen in the many sections (~40) of the first engineering course. In fall 2006, however, at the prompting of the CoE Academic Affairs office, a new course was offered to replace both semesters of the freshman program for transfer students. This new course, along with a peer-mentoring program for transfer students that had been initiated the prior year, seemed to offer a much needed support system for the transfer students. The synergistic impact of the fall 2006 course and the concurrent mentoring program led to slating the course for transfers as a summer 2007 offering with the mentoring effort integrated into the course. This paper provides details on course design and administration, and on the integration of the peer-mentoring program. Student evaluations of the course and the mentoring are provided, as are insights from the summer mentors. This program, tailored for transfer students, is also suitable for true freshmen who enter with substantial advanced placement (AP) or dual enrollment credit.


Today, many people are opting to begin their engineering education at community college and then transfer to a four-year institute. Escalation of college costs1-4 is the major motivation driving this trend,5 but community colleges offer more than just a less expensive trek through the first two years. They often provide a smaller, more intimate campus, and a greater flexibility in class scheduling, with more evening classes. They also offer an opportunity to pick up remedial math and science for those who decide to pursue engineering too late to prepare for that path in high school.6 With a transfer in mind, taking fundamental freshman- and sophomore-level courses at a community college can also mitigate a rocky academic start toward a four-year degree. For those recent high school graduates and those older students who are unsure of which major to pursue, less expensive part-time academic explorations at community college offer the ability to hold a full time job while deciding on future directions. Most engineering transfer students do hale from community colleges, and for non-elite receiving universities, the number of community college transfer students is on the rise and expected to increase steadily over the coming years.6, 7 In fact, a recent report by both the National Academy

Kampe, J., & Edmister, W., & Boone, C., & Watford, B. (2008, June), Transfer Students: Tailoring A Freshman Program To Their Needs Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3784

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015