Helping Transfer Students Succeed: Tips & Strategies for Academic Librarians

Helping Transfer Students Succeed: Tips & Strategies for Academic Librarians

Have you done outreach to your transfer students? If not, then you may want to consider transfer students as another important student group to support. We’ve covered orientations for first-year students and international student events, and in this post, we’ll cover outreach services to transfer students.

Late last fall, a colleague and I attended our school’s transfer student orientations and organized an outreach table to showcase the library’s various resources. We met with new transfer students and answered their questions about the library or campus in general. You are probably wondering how to increase your visibility or services to transfer students. Actually, many librarians may find this challenging because there might not be devoted or consistent services for this group on campus in general. In addition, transfer students come from many different schools, may be commuter students, and have various backgrounds and experiences in using library services, which are other challenges to consider.

One feature is certain: transfer students are often motivated and academically determined. If you have a good rapport with your office of student services/affairs, you may start forming partnerships to support this group as a start.

Consider the following activities to enhance your library services for transfer students:

  • Attend and participate in transfer student orientations (if your school has one), and pitch about library services or set up a table to display library resources. If you can’t pitch or set up, be present and active, and speak to students about library services; if there are no transfer student orientations or events, find out who the staff members are who do meet with new transfer students regularly and have them refer any transfer students’ library-related questions to you directly.  
  • Send personalized and welcome emails to new transfer students in targeted majors from subject librarians to build rapport: you can obtain that information from the transfer office if they can share it (privacy concern is something to consider).
  • Host “open houses” with refreshments in the library for new transfer students to meet with their subject librarians and learn more about the library services in an informal and social setting; you may also consider organizing library tours just for transfer students, too.
  • Send items for newsletters: At my school, the transfer student office sends newsletters to all transfer students, so I’ve created tailored messages and fliers to be included in the newsletters. Check if your student services distribute newsletters or information for transfer students.
  • Identify courses that transfer students usually enroll in, and find ways to create meaningful connections through personal librarian programs or open research workshops (these can also be listed in a newsletter) with these courses.
  • Create a LibGuide or a resource guide for transfer students, and mention the guide during the orientation or add it to the newsletter or personal email message; the LibGuide can contain general information but can also link to other course guides that they are taking or general campus information as well.
  • Partner with local junior or community college libraries to organize workshops about your library’s resources and services for incoming transfer students (during the fall semester) and what they can expect to be similar or different from their current libraries.
  • Research them! Don’t know what your transfer students are like? You can conduct a general survey on new transfer students and find out if they’ve used certain library resources or services, and what they usually “get out” of the library. Once you have the results, you can continue building on these services for them; you can also organize a series of open meetings for transfer students and listen to their thoughts in focus groups during the semester.

Creating personalized services can really make a difference for any student. These ideas and activities may help your library to better support transfer students.