This is an article from the fall 2019 issue of LSA Magazine. Read more stories from the magazine.
Michigan has 28 community colleges, and Michael Hartman and his colleagues visit every one of them. Hartman is the assistant director of transfer initiatives and partnerships for LSA’s student recruitment team.
He and the transfer team travel on behalf of the college to meet potential transfer students where they are. It’s very important, Hartman says, to reach students while they’re still actively making decisions about their academic career — and to dispel a few myths.
“There’s a mindset, particularly from community colleges here in Michigan, that U-M is not accessible,” Hartman says. “Some students don’t think we accept transfer students at all. Others look at the data on the admissions site. They see the stats for the incoming first-year class and say, ‘I’m not anywhere near that. What’s the point of thinking about it because I won’t get in?’”
Hartman works hard to show that people exactly like the students he’s talking to do get in — and thrive. Hartman’s office works with programs across campus to give potential transfer students a sense of what U-M is like. There are two specialized days for transfer students to visit campus based on their academic interests, one for students with STEM interests and another for students planning to major in humanities or social sciences. U-M’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program runs a summer fellowship that brings Michigan community college students to campus for ten weeks of research done in close collaboration with University of Michigan faculty. And the new Transfer Bridges to the Humanities@Michigan program, funded by a $1.6 million grant from the Mellon Foundation, connects LSA with Henry Ford College to support prospective transfer students throughout the transfer process. The program offers students the opportunity to participate in U-M programs such as optiMize and the LSA Opportunity Hub prior to transferring, and it engages collaboration between LSA and Henry Ford faculty to build better curricular pathways for the students.
All of this is done to give transfer students the understanding and perspective they’ll need to be successful once they arrive on campus.
Despite these and other efforts to introduce students to U-M’s communities and opportunities, Hartman still faces skepticism in conversations with prospective transfer students. The argument that Hartman offers to students who have this kind of doubt is simple: Students who transfer to U-M succeed.
“Transfer students succeed just as well as other students at U-M,” Hartman says. “Their grade point average at graduation is almost exactly the same as for students who came directly out of high school. There’s sometimes a struggle that first semester, but it’s not like they’re getting here and just barely scraping by.
“So we tell them that,” Hartman says. “We tell them that the proof that they belong here is that people just like them have come here, and they’ve done really well. And they can, too.”