A recent University Resources Committee report suggested that one way the University might increase revenue is by accepting more transfer students. Since transfers are not admitted on a need-blind basis, their tuition payments can help offset some of the $30 million in needed budget cuts. This week, the Herald reported that the Admission Office will in fact increase the number of transfers next year by 50, bringing the total to 170 students.
As long as administrators believe the University has the capacity to support a larger student body, this plan is a sound way to strengthen the University's balance sheet. However, it is also important to remember that transfers are not mere pawns in the budgeting process, but real students with concerns and needs.
Currently, transfers receive little support beyond the first week of school. By contrast, incoming freshmen not only participate in a week-long orientation, but also receive faculty advisers and Meiklejohn peer advisers for the duration of their first year. While transfers of course have more college experience than freshmen, they are just as new to life at Brown.
As such, we encourage the University to develop a stronger advising system for transfers. Improvements would not be drastic or particularly costly, but they could make a big difference to students who are trying to make major decisions — such as choosing a concentration — while learning to navigate a new school.
Since most transfers are sophomores and juniors, they have less time to choose a concentration than incoming freshmen. On top of this, transfers are not given a Meiklejohn peer adviser. We enthusiastically support the University's new policy of assigning transfer students to a faculty adviser. However, we think Brown should go one step further and allow transfers to benefit from the Meiklejohn program as well.
Advice from peers with similar interests can often be just as helpful as guidance from a faculty member, if not more so. Indeed, students in a given department tend to be more familiar with course offerings and can offer firsthand advice about a professor's teaching style and class difficulty level. Current Meiklejohn advisers are all volunteers, and the cost of training 10 or 15 additional students to work exclusively with transfers would be minimal, given that such training is already run for freshman advisers. The benefit of having access to a peer adviser far outweighs the minimal cost of training a few additional students.
Although many new students do not need help adjusting or making friends, some do find the transition difficult. Accordingly, the University may want to consider developing an independent peer counseling program for transfers. Peer counselors who work with transfers could not only advise on academic issues, but also help address social and extracurricular concerns.
Given the wide range of transfer students' backgrounds, it would be beneficial to at least give these students the option of working with a peer counselor. Granted, some may not want to take advantage of this opportunity. However, given the willingness of many current students to volunteer as peer counselors, creating and maintaining this new program should not be difficult.
Transfer students undoubtedly enrich Brown and bring unique perspectives to the community. We welcome a larger transfer class, and we want these students to have as easy an adjustment period as possible.
Editorials are written by The Herald's editorial page board. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.