SUNY Cortland senior Anthony Pellegrino was undeterred by heavy snowfall as he toured campus in search of a transfer destination in 2019.
Pellegrino, of Levittown, NY, initially chose to attend a major North Carolina university because he sought the warm weather and atmosphere of a campus of more than 30,000 students. Despite the snow in Cortland, Pellegrino was influenced by the positive and welcoming attitude he felt from his student tour guide.
“I knew I was in the right place, and I knew this was going to be the place where I would have the most success,” said Pellegrino, a dual-educated teen: social studies and an economics major.
The kind of support Pellegrino felt helped SUNY Cortland once again earn recognition for transfer student services. The university has been recognized for the fifth consecutive year on the Transfer Honor Roll published by Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), an international honor society that recognizes top-performing students in two-year colleges.
The 2022 list highlighted 171 colleges and universities nationwide, including four from the SUNY system. Cortland is the only public institution in New York to be honored annually since 2018.
The past school year has brought a welcome return to transfer student activities held in person – from orientation to annual awards ceremonies. The university received 2,124 transfer applications in 2021, with 780 students enrolled.
“Having student connections is huge, and I think we really saw that in the last year,” said Greg Diller ’07, SUNY Cortland’s bridging programs coordinator and organizer of his bid for the roll of honor. “Having that ability to meet in person, make that connection, and meet other transfer students was great.”
This year, institutions were asked to include student feedback in their honor roll nominations. SUNY Cortland included comments from two active transfer students: Pellegrino and Claire Perini, a social services major from Stony Point, NY. Both students highlighted the impact of dedicated faculty and staff members, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The on-campus resources make it nearly impossible not to pass,” Perini said.
Among the activities that returned in-person were Transfer Network Team Events, which seek to connect new students with classmates who previously transferred to SUNY Cortland. Pellegrino and Perini are both members of this group. They host peer-to-peer discussions, quizzes, mental health-focused activities, and several other outlets in addition to holding regular meetings at the Memorial Library.
“Students had the opportunity to make those connections early on, which hopefully made things a little easier,” Diller said.
Twenty-four undergraduate students 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, of which 170 are eligible. To be eligible for Tau Sigma, transfer students must achieve 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 were then assigned a transfer friendliness rating based on qualities such as transfer student support services, financial aid, admissions awareness, and on-campus opportunities. The top 25% of campuses have been recognized.
SUNY Cortland scored particularly high for the university’s transfer completion rate of 85% and its average transfer credit acceptance of 99%.
Additional areas that the SUNY Cortland app continues to highlight include:
Consulting and Transition: Based on the first floor of the Memorial Library, this 12-person team helps meet the academic advising needs of all students, especially transfers. Several staff members specialize in evaluating transfer credits. Zachary Wilson, Transfer Mobility Advisor, also works closely with close partners at SUNY Broome and Tompkins Cortland Community College.
Transfer planning sheets and transfer equivalence tables: These online tools help students chart a clear path to SUNY Cortland. Planning sheets outline recommended courses prior to transfer and equivalency charts show how courses from various institutions will count at Cortland. Three board and transition staff members — Diller, Wilson, and Carol Costell Corbin, Associate Director for Credit Transfer and Graduation — are also active members of the New York State Transfer and Graduation Board of Directors. Joint Association.
COR 201: Inspired by COR 101 for freshmen, three in-person sections of this course were offered in 2021-22. This one-credit opportunity introduces new transfer students to college life and the many ways to create a successful experience at Cortland.
National Transfer Student Week: Held in October, this week-long effort was meant to celebrate and support transfer students. Programs included transfer quizzes, a fall festival, a door decorating contest, a donut giveaway, and an educational outreach campaign.
Reverse degrees of transfer: Transfer students who come from community colleges without earning their associate’s degree can still earn it while working toward their bachelor’s degree at SUNY Cortland. This opportunity is especially helpful for students pursuing a part-time job while in college that requires an associate’s degree.
Diller mentioned even more programs and services on the horizon for new transfer students. These include adding on-going transfer grades to transcripts, which will aid in course planning and the orientation experience.
Prospective transfer students can contact the Admissions Office for more information on the application process or Counseling and Transition for more information on support resources.
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.