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Transforming Lives

Transfer Services helps students find their place on campus 

Transferring to a new school can be overwhelming. However, for Mike Summers, ’24, the individualized attention at Bridgewater State University made the process easy.

Mike worked closely with Transfer Advisor Jaclyn Cowell, who helped him determine the best classes to take and connected him to on-campus resources.

“She was very, very helpful telling me about how everything worked,” recalled Mike, who came to BSU as a junior after graduating from Massasoit Community College. “She helped me just feel comfortable. ... She really made things easier for me.”

The support Mike received is not unique. It’s a hallmark of Transfer Services, a department exclusively focused on advising and supporting prospective and new transfer students.

“We’ve created an atmosphere that is welcoming and inclusive, and students leave feeling as though they are a priority and not just a number,” said Jeff Sarahs, ’10, G’12, director of Transfer Services, adding: “When they see friendly faces and they trust us, they ultimately want to go to Bridgewater.”

The data bears that statement out, as transfer students are increasingly likely to remain at BSU after their first year. This measure of retention grew almost 5 percentage points in the past 5 years to 84.6 percent for full-time transfer students who started in fall 2022.

As they prepare to become a Bear, transfer students now receive checklists and personalized advising to ease the transition. They also learn from tutorials specifically tailored to their needs.

“When they are getting that level of attention at a university, it really means the world to those students,” Sarahs said. “It’s people helping people.”

For community college students, the process starts even sooner. BSU staff advise them on courses while they are working on their associate degree to prepare them for success at BSU.

Transfer ambassadors like Joshua Nichols, ’26, lead drop-in Q-and-A sessions, offer campus tours, assist at welcome events, and are a frequent presence in the Transfer Services office. They’re always ready to provide a student perspective on BSU life.

“I knew I wanted to help students like me transfer in,” said Joshua, who previously attended UMass Dartmouth. “Everyone has a different story. If I can give them another chance (at college), that’s what it’s all about for me.”

Joshua came to BSU at a time when he wasn’t sure if he would even continue with college. But the business management major immediately connected with faculty and staff such as professors Marge Johnsson and Todd Harris.

“Being involved here definitely made me stay,” he said of working for Transfer Services. “I have more of a purpose than just going to school.”

Mike is similarly pleased with his adjustment. Now in his last semester as a business management major and marketing minor, Mike appreciates Student Accessibility Services staff and professors such as Dr. Jakari Griffith who are eager to mentor students.

“I have been really happy here,” Mike said. “I can’t ask for anything more. I’m lucky.”  

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