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Transfers welcomed during orientation

Claire Heininger | Thursday, August 21, 2003

As 2,000 freshmen descend on campus this weekend, about 160 transfer students will be familiarizing themselves with campus and, for most, their off-campus housing as well.Each transfer student enters with sophomore or junior status, depending on their previous college experience. This semester, 159 transfers plan to enroll at Notre Dame – 106 as sophomores, 52 as juniors and one as a first-semester senior. The total number of incoming students increased by about 20 from last year, said Michael Gantt, the University’s coordinator of transfer admissions. “Our transfer students come from all over,” Gantt said. “It’s always fun to see where they come from – community colleges, four-year schools and schools which specialize in one particular thing. We also get quite a few from Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s.”Similar to applicants for the incoming freshman class, transfer applicants must endure the rigors of the application process and meet climbing admissions standards.”Transfers have high grades,” Gantt said. “Typically, it’s the students who have a 3.5 or higher.”Unlike an applicant for the freshman class, transfers must apply to the colleges they want to enter. Gantt said the college makes a decision based on the compatibility of the transfer’s courses to the college’s curriculum. Transfer students must then complete at least half their degree requirements at Notre Dame to earn a diploma.Recently, the most challenging part of the transfer process has been the search for local housing. The steady increase in the size of the freshman class, as well as the trend of fewer juniors and seniors moving off-campus, combined to make most dorms at or very near their capacity.”The housing office has done everything they can,” Gantt said. “They’ve turned study lounges into dorm rooms. Unfortunately, most of the transfer students will still be living off-campus.”The Office of Residential Life and Housing attempts to assist the transfers who must seek off-campus living arrangements by referring them to University’s off-campus housing department. Mark Witschorik, a student transfer co-commissioner at Notre Dame, said the housing crunch is often the most difficult thing to explain to arriving transfer students.”They expect to live on campus, and it’s always a disappointment to tell them otherwise,” Witschorik said.Witschorik and Ashley Bentzlin-Smith, a student transfer co-commissioner, designed an orientation program to ease transfers’ adjustment to life on campus and selected a committee to run activities that is comparable to a typical dorm’s Frosh-O itinerary.”Our major activities are called Huddles, which are mixers that help make the scramble to meet people a little more focused,” Witschorik said.Transfer students also attend scheduled programs with their advisors, as well as a parent-student luncheon in South Dining Hall on Thursday with University President Father Edward Malloy and other administrators.”They explain what the Notre Dame environment is all about,” Witschorik said. “We hope this whole weekend will help smooth the transition – give transfers a home base right away to relate to.”Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s also will welcome 26 and 22 transfer students respectively.

Sheila Flynn contributed to this article.