By Giselle Gaytan, Special News Reporter
Silvio Vazquez, who was appointed chief enrollment management officer last November, has been working to improve the transfer student transition process at Wheaton.
Vazquez leads three campus offices: undergraduate admissions, graduate admissions and student financial services.
After starting out at Gordon College, Vazquez himself transferred to a community college, then to another university before returning to Gordon and graduating in 1987.
“I value the transfer experience. I actually transferred three times and understand the challenges, the uncertainty that students face when they arrive in one area [at] one college and realize that’s not where they need to be or want to be,” he said.
National Transfer Student Week was celebrated on college campuses from Oct. 21-25.
According to Vazquez, some resident directors and resident assistants on campus took the “extra step” during this week to show their appreciation for transfers through gift packages and notes of support.
Vazquez has organized two transfer focus groups in his first semester at Wheaton, which aim to “find out what their transfer experience was like and what we [can] learn from it.” Focus group meetings will be held this month to survey Wheaton transfers on their experience.
Vazquez hopes to discover how the transfer students were received when they began at Wheaton and what obstacles they faced during registration. According to transfer admissions counselor Abbey Yoder, six students took part in the spring 2018 focus group. Both the spring and fall groups were composed primarily of recent transfers.
Vazquez hopes to “take [the fall group’s] feedback and the feedback we received in spring to see if there are some things that we can easily resolve or change to make transfer students feel [less] burdened. I want to make sure I understand what their experiences are like.”
Junior Maycie Schmidt transferred to Wheaton in spring 2018 from a New Jersey community college. She took a gap semester to make attendance at Wheaton financially reasonable. For Schmidt, determining which “good courses” would help her graduate on time has felt like an “on-your- own” project because transfer students cannot transfer credit unless there is an exact Wheaton College equivalent.
This fall, 48 transfer students became a part of the Wheaton community. Transfer students atWheaton qualify for the same needs-based financial aid and merit aid that first-yearstudents receive. To make the transfer process more accomodating,Vazquez has taken part in research initiatives.
He and Yoder are currently investigating potential articulation agreements with community colleges which could better facilitate the transfer of credit from one institution to the next.
“I can’t point toany changes other than … wanting to make sure that we’re addressing any systemicissues that we may uncover, or that we are at the very least listening andseeing what we can do to accommodate the transfer experience,” Vazquezsaid. “I believe we’re transfer-friendly. I want to be more transfer-friendly.”