By LUCIANA PAZ and ALEXANDRA TIRADO
UT is one of the 65 universities to receive the 2017 Phi Theta Kappa’s 2017 Transfer Honor Roll, which honors the most accommodating four-year universities for community-college transfer students.
“It is a tremendous badge of honor when you get a transfer student,” said George DaPonte, director of international admissions and admissions counselor for transfer students. “[Transfer students] know what student life is like, and when they choose the University of Tampa, it is usually a very sound decision. Additionally, they are closer to being an adult than freshmen, so it is even easier to work with them.”
The honor received by these universities, including UT, was measured by numerous factors including collaboration, transfer accommodation, admissions outreach, scholarships and institutional priorities. Throughout the process, students keep in contact with a transfer advisor and upon arrival, like continuing students, new transfers are assigned to an advisor in the academic center that provides academic guidance.
“All my credits got transferred properly and they treated me really well in general,” said Angelo Nicolaci, a junior in biochemistry who transferred from Columbus State Community College.
Nicolaci said that in terms of transferring credits, he had the most trouble because he had to deal with his previous college not having a registrar’s office of their own. However, when the struggle was done, UT sped up the process.
“I have to give credit to George DaPonte who always helped me and answered my questions as best and fast as possible,” Nicolaci said.
Students from diverse backgrounds spoke highly of the assistance provided for transfer students.
“As a handicapped student, I had great the help of a lot of people here at a UT,” said Tania Lemus, a sophomore in psychology who transferred from American College. “Fortunately, all my courses transferred successfully. Some of them were not the same, but UT gave me waivers and I didn’t have to take any of the first year baccalaureate requirements. It really helped me a lot because I was able to concentrate on my major courses right away.”
Hundreds of students transfer to UT each year. UT accepts transfer students from two-year and four-year institutions at any class level. After submitting a deposit, admitted students receive an official transfer credit evaluation as soon as possible.
“We don’t punish anyone for learning,” DaPonte said. “So whenever you are taking a course, it is academically transferable with a grade of C or better, it is a no-brainer in terms of rewarding somebody for their academic accomplishments.”
However, not everybody had such a smooth transition. Alba Muliner, a junior finance major, had a different opinion regarding UT’s transfer-friendly reputation.
Muilinier, an Hillsborough Community College (HCC) transfer, had to deal with a lot of misunderstandings in terms of transferring her credit hours. She explained that because she is an international student, she is required to be registered for 12 credits in order to maintain her Visa status. However, since UT doesn’t allow students to pick their first semester’s classes, they only registered her for 9 credits.
“I feel frustrated because as a university they have to make sure that you have all the credits that you need for graduation,” Muilinier said. “You have to depend too much from UT people like chairs, advisors, the registrar office, etc. Sometimes they don’t even answer [emails].”
Brent Benner, director of enrollment management at the admission’s office, was confused by Muiliner’s claim.
“Admissions doesn’t register students – Academic Advising does,” Benner said. “Actually, as a transfer student, this student would be able to also choose their own classes, so I’m not sure what their difficulty was. They could just add another class on their own if they wanted.”
Other universities honored by Phi Theta Kappa include Adelphi University, Florida International University and Webster University.
“I certainly cannot speak on behalf of all UT transferred students because I am sure all experiences are completely different,” Lemus said. “But in my case, I couldn’t be more grateful with UT for all the help, specially with the international admissions department. I truly think they deserve this award.”
Luciana Paz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alexandra Tirado can be reached at email@example.com.