The National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students and the Formation of a National Association on Transfer

Article By: 
Author Image: 
Bonita C. Jacobs, Ph.D.

The author provides information on the creation of a new association to help serve as a clearinghouse on transfer research and study.



At their seventh annual conference in January, the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students announced the formation of a national association focused on transfer issues. The Association for the Study of Transfer Students (ASTS) will serve as a clearinghouse on transfer research and study. Each of the more than 200 conference participants was named a charter member of the organization.

Conference keynote speakers were Dr. Stephen Handel, Director of Community College Initiatives for The College Board, and Dr. Lori Varlotta, Vice President for Student Affairs at Sacramento State University. Dr. Handel’s presentation was entitled, “Community Colleges, Four-Year Institutions, and the Transfer Student: Who’s Zoomin’ Who?” and Dr. Varlotta’s presentation was entitled, “Using the Voluntary System of Accountability’s College Protrait as an Information and Recruitment Tool for Transfer Students.”

Pre-conference workshops, focusing on transfer from both the two-year and four-year perspectives, were as follows:

  • "Advising Transfer Students,” presented by Jess Ray, University Registrar at Illinois State University and Chair of NACADA's Advising Transfer Students Commission
  • "Triaging for Transfer: What Do We Know about Transfer and How Can We Make It Better?” presented by Dr. Trudy Bers, Ph.D., Executive Director, Research, Curriculum & Planning, Oakton Community College
  • "Cultivating Faculty Relationships to Foster Successful Transfer Programs,” presented by Dr. Ron Harlan, Ph.D., Dean of Instructional Services, Glendale (CA) Community College
  • "Dialogues on Orientation and Transition Issues: Best Practices and Exciting Examples,” presented by Emily Bauer, M.Ed., Associate Director, Orientation and Transition, San Jose State University and Katie Granholm, M.S., Orientation Coordinator, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Increase in Transfer Students

The University of North Texas’ Division of Student Development, with support from the National Orientation Directors Association (NODA), initiated the Institute for the Study of Transfer Students in January 2003. UNT's strategic planning had indicated both an increasing number of transfer students entering the university and a need to better understand the factors affecting Student with booktransfer student success during the transition process. Over 200 persons from 36 states and Canada met at the inaugural conference and underscored the fact that transfer issues are not unique to any one campus or type of campus.

The 2003 meeting also brought together individuals who realized the lack of professional literature specific to transfer concerns and they began efforts to produce a book that highlighted the varied issues surrounding transfer students. In 2004, under the direction of Bonita Jacobs and Barbara Lauren, The College Transfer Student in America: The Forgotten Student was published by AACRAO.

Research on Transfers & Articulation

The Conference has continued to grow and in 2006, a Research Grant was awarded to assist in the development of the research base in transfer and articulation. Barbara K. Townsend, Professor of Higher Education and Continuing Education at University of Missouri - Columbia and Kristin Wilson, Associate Professor of English at Moberly Area Community College received the grant to study "University Actions and Dimensions Affecting Transfer Students' Academic and Social Integration" and presented their findings at the 2007 Conference.

At the 2007 Conference, Megan Ray and Allison Jedinak of Indiana University were awarded a grant from the Institute for the Study of Transfer Students for "Technology and Transitions: Academic Usage Among Traditional Age Transfer Students". A second grant was given to Rose Martinez of the University of Texas at Austin to support research into "The Effects of Internal and External Factors on Transfer Student Access to Elite Public Universities". Ray and Jedinak presented their findings at the 2008 Conference. Martinez will do so at the 2009 Conference.

The 2008 Conference saw a record number of participants and an emphasis on research into transfer student issues including a forum presented by Barbara Townsend. Two new grants were awarded. The first recipients were Scott Peska of Northern Illinois University and Debra Bragg of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign for "Timing is Everything: A Comparative Study of the Adjustment of Fall and Mid-year Community College Transfer Students as a Public Four-Year University." The second grant was awarded to Charlene Stinard and Bernadette Jungblut of the University of Central Florida for "University of Community College Collaboration in Pre-Admission Advising: Improving Students' Transition to the University and Progress to Graduation." It is anticipated that presentations on both of these grants will be given at the 2009 Conference.

Promoting Transfer Student Success

The association, which will serve as the institute’s professional organization, will bring together individuals from across the country to promote transfer student success, to advance transfer research and to facilitate partnerships that will enhance the transfer experience for students nationwide. A board of advisors for the association has been selected and will be responsible for outlining the association’s structure and bylaws over the next year.

ASTS membership includes access to the member-only section of the NISTS web site, a free subscription to the association’s electronic newsletter, discounted fees to selected conferences, opportunities to apply for member-only research grants, and updates and information regarding public policy and affairs affecting transfer students and those who support them.

More information can be found on the NISTS website at

About the Author

Bonita C. Jacobs, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Development
Associate Professor of Higher Education
University of North Texas, Denton, Texas

Dr. Bonita C. Jacobs is Vice President for Student Development and Associate Professor of Higher Education at the University of North Texas, Denton, Texas in addition to serving as the Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of Transfer Students. She holds a B.A. in Spanish and a M.Ed. in Counseling from Stephen F. Austin State University, a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Texas A&M University, and intensive Spanish study from Universidad de Morelia and Instituto Technologico de Monterrey.

Dr. Jacobs is a former editor of the Journal of College Orientation and Transition and received the NODA President's Award and the NODA Award for Outstanding Scholarly Contributions to the Orientation Profession. She is the recipient of the “John Jones Award for Outstanding Performance as a Senior Student Affairs Officer” from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Region III; the “Ted. K. Miller Achievement of Excellence in Assessment Award” from the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS); and the “Gold Excellence Award” from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. She is a member of the National Advisory Board for the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition and a faculty member for the “Donna M. Bourassa Mid-Level Management Institute” for the American College Personnel Association She is the author of numerous publications including The College Transfer Student in America: The Forgotten Student and is a noted speaker and consultant on student transition.