Publication Date

Summer 7-24-2020

Document Type

Action research project: Open access

Degree Name

MA Higher Education Leadership


Leadership Studies


In this study, I explored the experiences and needs of transfer students at the University of San Diego (USD) through assessment analysis, the implementation and observations of Spring orientation, and student leader surveys. My positionality as a graduate assistant for New Student Onboarding allowed me to implement Spring orientation programming, analyze postorientation assessment data, and survey transfer student leaders about their experiences. This study provided me a better understanding of how we as a department and an institution as a whole can improve how we onboard our transfer students and further support them throughout their undergraduate career. While cultivating a sense of belonging for transfer students is important, their most basic and essential need is ensuring they have the necessary resources to achieve academic success. Contrary to their first-year counterparts, transfer students have less time to complete their degree once at a four-year institution and research indicates much of their anxiety is due to their academics and pressure to graduate within two to three years. Through this study, I learned USD can improve transfer students’ transition to campus by being timelier with admission and connecting students with an advisor. Additionally, the onboarding process should be comprised of only essential information to mitigate overload. And lastly, I learned equipping faculty with resources on how best to support their transfer students would help students feel valued.