Transfer Leadership Organization helps Ole Miss students acclimate

Torry Rees
Northeast Daily Mississippi Journal

Transferring to a new university is an exciting, but difficult transition. Some students fit in just fine, but others find it more challenging to adjust to the new campus. The University of Mississippi offers an organization to make this shift easier for transfer students.

The Transfer Leadership Organization presents an opportunity for transfer students to get involved in student body work, and promotes a seamless transition, both academically and socially. The program has come and gone throughout the years at UM, but it was recently revamped.

Dewey Knight is the associate director of the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience, as well as the TLO faculty sponsor.

“We don’t have a transfer center for students as of now,” Knight said. “The university is working towards one. But our office functions as a support center for transfer students. What we’ve worked out well and came up with is this Transfer Leadership Organization.”

There are no dues to join and no GPA requirements to qualify. It is open to any transfer student. It encourages interaction and involvement for transfer students in all facets of the university.

“Transfer students tend to be commuters off-campus,” Knight said. “They drive in, go to class, and turn around, and go back to their apartment or house. They don’t get very involved in campus organizations. Most organizations recruit freshmen, and transfers feel left out. Well, TLO gives them that opportunity for campus involvement.”

Jonathan Jamieson started out as the treasurer of TLO his first year at the university and now is president of TLO. As president, he is responsible for managing the email and social media accounts, adding new transfers to the database, and planning social events.

He remembers trying to fit into everyday life. “I came from a junior college here in Mississippi called Northeast Mississippi Community College,” Jamieson said. “It’s kind of a different atmosphere transferring from a community college to a university.”

People come from all different states, from California to Maine, hoping to make a fresh start or find a better opportunity in their specific major. Still, students aren’t informed of all opportunities available to participate in, which makes it a bit more challenging to adjust to university life.

Fortunately, students are provided with information about TLO at their respective orientations. It is encouraged that transfers join. However, it is not a requirement.

“I enjoy that it is not a requirement to join,” Jamieson said. “If it was a requirement, you would have a group that didn’t exactly want to be there. So, with it being an open registration, only those wanting to be involved are involved.”

There are many benefits of joining the student-run organization ranging from professional seminars to academic advising meetings to try to help transfer students better network within the university.

TLO has also introduced the new One-Plus-One program that is available exclusively to transfer students who join the organization. It pairs a senior transfer student with a junior transfer student to help them better acclimate to the university.

“It’s an excellent idea,” Jamieson said. “It gives transfers a mentor and a point of contact. That way, if the new transfer has any questions, they can hit them up and ask the senior transfer student.”

Knight said it’s not like a tutor. “It’s someone you can ask, ‘Hey, how do I do this?’ or ‘Where do I go to get that?'” he said. “It’s to make them feel like they’ve got someone to go to if they have a question. They’re not just left out in the cold.”

TLO also offers fun activities and events students can get involved in to better connect with other fellow transfers. This semester, TLO kicked off the school year with a tailgate event in the Grove for the opening football game against Florida State University.

“It was a nice turn out,” Jamieson said. “They got to meet new people, and it was an open event, so everyone who wanted to come was able to.”

The organization is looking to open academic seminars to help transfers improve their portfolios. In addition, there is also a class specifically for transfer students.

“The university instituted the Education Higher Education (EDHE) 305 program,” Jamieson said. “It’s an educational elective in which you learn about Ole Miss culture, the creed, and the history of Oxford.”

This elective gives students a “crash course” to learn more about the university’s history and other various information transfers wouldn’t know because they weren’t on campus as a freshman.

A student can find out more information about the organization through the Rebel Roundup event at their respective orientations. Jamieson also holds a seat at the student questionnaire panel during the Q&A session during orientation.

“I’m there to better help students acclimate,” Jamieson said. “It helps to get the TLO name out there as soon as possible.”

Knight sees lots of positive success from the revamped program. “Students who join [TLO] tend to have a higher GPA, stay on academic good standing, and graduate on time more so than students that are not involved,” Knight said.

TLO helps transfer students grow as a student as well as a leader. Jamieson feels his time in the organization has been very positive.

“I felt behind coming in as a junior,” Jamieson said. “Joining the Transfer Leadership Organization and connecting with the people did helped me better build my resume and portfolio. It helped me become as successful as I am today.”

Students get ample opportunities at leadership within the organization. Jamieson has been able to use TLO as a platform for other opportunities within the university and is involved in the Nutrition Department student body.

“He’s outstanding,” Knight said. “He’s done a great job, and I couldn’t be more pleased.”

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