SUNY Cortland senior Anthony Pellegrino wasn’t deterred by heavy snowfall when he visited campus looking a transfer destination in 2019.
Pellegrino, from Levittown, N.Y., initially chose to attend a large university in North Carolina because he sought warm weather and the atmosphere of a campus with 30,000-plus students. Despite the snow in Cortland, Pellegrino was swayed by the positive, welcoming attitude he felt from his student tour guide.
“I knew that I was in the right place, and I knew that this would be the place that I would become the most successful,” said Pellegrino, a dual adolescence education: social studies and economics major.
The type of support that Pellegrino felt has helped SUNY Cortland earn recognition for transfer student services yet again. The university was recognized for the fifth consecutive year on the Transfer Honor Roll published by Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), an international honor society that welcomes high-achieving students from two-year colleges.
The 2022 list highlighted 171 colleges and universities nationwide, including four from the SUNY system. Cortland is New York’s only public institution to be honored every year since 2018.
The past academic year brought a welcomed return to transfer student activities held in person — everything from Orientation to annual award ceremonies. The university received 2,124 transfer applications in 2021, with 780 students enrolling.
“Having students connect with each other is huge, and I think we really saw that this past year,” said Greg Diller ’07, SUNY Cortland’s coordinator of transition programs as well as the organizer of its honor roll application. “Having that ability to get back together in person, gain that connection and meet other transfer students was great.”
This year, institutions were invited to include student input with their honor roll applications. SUNY Cortland included feedback from two active transfer students: Pellegrino and Claire Perini, a senior human services major from Stony Point, N.Y. Both students pointed to the impact of dedicated faculty and staff members, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The resources on campus make it almost impossible to not succeed,” Perini said.
Among the activities that returned in person were Transfer Network Team events, which look to connect new students with classmates who previously transferred to SUNY Cortland. Both Pellegrino and Perini are members of that group. They organize peer chats, trivia, mental health-focused activities and several other outlets in addition to holding regular meetings in Memorial Library.
“Students had that opportunity to make those connections right off the bat, which hopefully made things a little bit easier,” Diller said.
Twenty-four undergraduates earned an annual merit scholarship worth $1,000 from Phi Theta Kappa in 2021 and 46 students joined SUNY Cortland’s chapter of the Tau Sigma National Honor Society, with 170 being eligible to join. To be eligible for Tau Sigma, transfer students must earn a 3.5 grade point average while completing at least 12 credit hours.
In order to be named to the PTK Honor Roll, campus representatives completed a profile using an online tool called PTK Connect. Institutions then were assigned a transfer friendliness rating based on qualities such as transfer student support services, financial aid, admissions outreach and campus opportunities. The top 25% of highest-rated campuses were recognized.
SUNY Cortland scored especially high for the university’s 85% transfer completion rate and its 99% average acceptance of transfer credits.
Among the additional areas that SUNY Cortland’s application continues to highlight:
Advisement and Transition: Housed on the first floor of Memorial Library, this 12-person team helps meet the academic advising needs of all students, especially transfers. Several staff members specialize in transfer credit evaluation. Zachary Wilson, transfer mobility advisor, also works closely with nearby partners in SUNY Broome and Tompkins Cortland Community College.
Transfer Planning Sheets and Transfer Equivalency Charts: These online tools help students map a clear path to SUNY Cortland. Planning sheets outline recommended coursework prior to transferring and equivalency charts show how coursework from various institutions will count at Cortland. Three staff members in Advisement and Transition — Diller, Wilson and Carol Costell Corbin, associate director for transfer credit and degree completion — also are active e-board members with the New York State Transfer and Articulation Association.
Orientation: An in-person Orientation session welcomed new students starting at SUNY Cortland for the Spring 2022 semester. Summer programs also will be offered in person for new transfer students starting in Fall 2022.
COR 201: Modeled after COR 101 for first-year students, three in-person sections of this course were offered in 2021-22. This one-credit opportunity introduces new transfer students to academic life and the many ways to create a successful Cortland experience.
National Transfer Student Week: Held in October, this weeklong effort looked to celebrate and support transfer students. Programs included transfer trivia, a fall festival, door decorating contest, donut giveaway and an educational awareness campaign.
Reverse transfer degrees: Transfer students who come from community colleges without completing their associate’s degree can still earn it while working toward their bachelor’s degree at SUNY Cortland. This opportunity is particularly useful for students pursuing part-time work during college that requires an associate’s degree.
Diller mentioned even more programs and services on the horizon for new transfer students. These include adding transfer-in-progress grades on transcripts, which will help in course planning and the Orientation experience.
Prospective transfer students can contact the Admissions Office for more information about the application process or Advisement and Transition for more information about resources for support.
Visit the Phi Theta Kappa website for more information on SUNY Cortland’s recent recognition, including a full list of all 2022 PTK Honor Roll members.