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Students transferring to OU at growing rate

Hundreds of transfer students benefit from OU’s partnership with community colleges.

Ford Clark knew he was a Bobcat the moment his 15-year-old foot touched College Green.

“It was kind of like love at first sight,” Clark said. “I feel like a lot of people say that, but it really was.”

But there was a problem. Like many other prospective Bobcats, when it was time to sign on the dotted line, outside circumstances prevented Clark from enrolling at Ohio University.

Many future OU students run into roadblocks that prevent them from immediately enrolling in classes, which sometimes force them to study at a community college and then transfer to OU.

In Clark’s case, he first enrolled at Columbus State Community College, where he studied for three semesters, waiting for the moment he could transfer to OU. He worked during the day and went to class at night, keeping his nose to the grindstone.

“It was kind of sucky,” Clark said. “I didn’t meet anyone … it didn’t really feel like school.”

But in fall 2013, everything fell into place in his personal life and Clark headed to Athens for Fall Semester.

Clark is one of hundreds of students who transfer to the university every year from community colleges like Columbus State, said Candace Boeninger, assistant vice provost for enrollment management and director of undergraduate admissions at OU.

OU has partnered with 18 community colleges across Ohio to allow students to take OU courses at community colleges, with the hope of turning a two-year degree into a bachelor’s degree. These students often transfer to the Athens campus, Boeninger said.

The number of transfer applications submitted to OU has increased every year since 2007, ranging from 1,055 applicants to 1,523, according to university data. Transfer student acceptance rates have wavered from as high as 75.8 percent to as low as 67.7 percent over this period; however, enrollment of transfer students has hovered around 500 all six years.

When asked what draws transfer students to OU, Douglas Orr, transfer student coordinator at University College, said transfers cite the same factors that bring any student to OU.

“Maybe they visit a friend down here, then they look at the small town environment and they see the beautiful campus,” Orr said. “That leaves an impression on them. … But there is also the academic appeal.”

Boeninger echoed Orr’s sentiment in an email, saying she believes many students transfer because OU will “honor their previous experiences and help them transition into life as a Bobcat.”

The state’s “Transfer to Degree Guarantee Program,” which promises the transfer of credits between public schools in Ohio, has made transferring a more viable option for students across the state. But Jenny Klein, assistant dean for Persistence and Student Success at OU, said the school has taken extra steps to make the university an attractive transfer option.

“Recently, we’ve moved from having a day-long orientation program for transfer students to a day and a half,” Klein said. “Transfer students have higher (academic) probation rates than first-year students. It is our goal to lower the probation rates and increase the retention rates of our students.”

Boeninger also said the university makes “every effort to ensure that transfer students have the information they need for a successful transition.”

For Clark, now a junior studying finance and a resident assistant in The Convo, the people of OU are both what brought him to and what he says will keep him in Athens.

“I really like the students. I love the staff. I think a very unique group of people are attracted to OU,” Clark said. “I haven’t run into anyone here who wasn’t going out of their way to help me.”


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