Transfer Center
Bldg 52 Rm E30

Academic Year Hours
Mon. - Thurs. 9am - 6pm
Fri. 9am - 1pm

Supporting Transfer Students

transfer advocateCreating a transfer inclusive culture at Cal Poly takes all of us. We have created trainings, resources, and tips for all of us to become better transfer advocates. Incoming Transfer Student Experience Overview is a great document to share with all Cal Poly staff, faculty, and student assistants who engage with incoming students.

Looking to support the center? 
You can buy something off of our Transfer Center Amazon Wishlist and it will go directly to students who utilize our center! Email us at if you want to to volunteer for event support or be on a panel. If you are a Cal Poly transfer alumni check out our alumni website page for ways you can engage and give back. 

Creating a Transfer Inclusive Cal Poly Culture

Transfer Inclusivity Trainings for Staff, Faculty and Students

  • Staff & Faculty Transfer Inclusion Training - 90min - offered quarterly on zoom, see Cal Poly report for training date to be shared.
    • What is covered
      • Demographics, CSU GI 2025
      • Barriers to transfer success at Cal Poly
      • Transfer research and assesment
      • Common misconceptions, assumptions
      • Inclusive language
      • Key things to know about the transfer experience
      • Applying it to CP work (activities)
  • Student Transfer Inclusion Training available for student groups and student employee - 40min - offered virtually or in-person by request sent to
    • What is covered - 
      • Demographics
      • Inclusive Language
      • Key things to know about the transfer experience
      • Common misconceptions, assumptions
      • Applying it through a student lens (activities)

5 Tips for a Transfer Inclusive Classroom

These tips are created from listening to and working with Cal Poly transfers and from the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students guide for Supporting Transfer Student Success: Five Key Faculty Practices. We encourage anyone teaching at Cal Poly to check out this resource and Be A Faculty Transfer Advocate (2021)

  1. Be aware that the backgrounds and experiences of transfers students vary greatly.
    • Transfer students have had varying access to resources and opportunities before coming to Cal Poly.
    • We need to be especially aware of the experiences of minoritized transfers.
      • "We can hold space especially for first-generation, low-income, students of color, and other minoritized transfers to feel okay about asking for the support they need. At the same time, we can clearly convey: “I know you are capable of figuring out lots of things by yourself, but I am here for you as you settle in here. Is there anything in my capacity as your instructor that I could do or do differently to best support your experience as a student here?” Being a safe and accessible resource helps level the playing field for transfer students." - from page 6 of NISTS's Supporting Transfer Student Success: Five Key Faculty Practices
    • CP transfer students share they often hear phrases like, “You should…”,  “You shouldn’t…”,or  "How have you not...". These types of statements often come from a deficit mindset. They also take away power from the student, leaving them feeling unseen and unheard, affecting their sense of belonging at Cal Poly. Seek to remove deficit thinking and language from your classroom.
  2. Create a syllabi and classroom culture that includes and supports transfers.
    • Transfers may not know where various important resources (like the Disability Resource Center) that would help them succeed are located or that they exist. Consider adding a list of suggested support resources for your course and how to access them (like tutoring, or group study sessions). Another option would be to have the 5 tips for succeeding in this class for students to have as a guide.
      • "Students often have misconceptions about how to do well in courses and may lack knowledge about academic support services on campus. Research suggests that many first-generation students may not understand what or who office hours are for, and students also commonly believe that the writing or tutoring centers are only for people who are failing" - pg. 12 of NISTS's Supporting Transfer Student Success: Five Key Faculty Practices
    • "In many courses, faculty ask students to share a little bit about themselves... on the first day of class. But we should also engage students with questions related to their transfer experiences or intentions. For example, faculty can ask students to write an informal, ungraded “autobiography” in which students share their identities, past experiences, hopes and interests, motivations for college, their strengths, and their areas for growth in the coming academic term.Faculty at transfer-receiving institutions might ask, “What has your college experience been like so far? Did you begin here or at another college or university? What has that journey been like for you?”  from page 9 of NISTS's Supporting Transfer Student Success: Five Key Faculty Practices
    • At Cal Poly there is a high number of our commuter students, students with dependents, and students who work full-time who are also transfers. These responsibilities impact their experience at Cal Poly and should not be used against them when working toward earning their degree. A no absence policy can be a barrier for students with unique circumstances and therefore affect their academic success and ultimately graduation rates.
  3. Provide opportunities for students to learn about the grading, lab or software used in your course.
    • When teaching upper division courses, it is important to remember that transfers may not have been in the Cal Poly labs or spaces your course uses or they have not used certain software required in your course. Offer a time in the first week or two during class or office hours to learn about lab equipment or software. This can also be a great refresher for students at Cal Poly who may not have used something for a few months or quarter.
      • "Transfer students’ agency alone cannot overcome the inequities that persist in transfer supports and information. An equity-minded approach allows us to critically reassess and undo practices and mindsets that may not serve all transfer students." - pg 6 of NISTS's Supporting Transfer Student Success: Five Key Faculty Practices
    • "The ways we talk about coursework and the feedback we give students can shape their motivation and behaviors in our class and in college. By being transparent about the purposes of and assessment criteria for the work we assign, we can reduce persistent equity gaps... By expressing high academic standards combined with fervent belief in each student’s capacity to learn, instructors help students develop growth mindsets that are vital for their success." - pg. 12 of NISTS's Supporting Transfer Student Success: Five Key Faculty Practices
  4. Create opportunities for transfers to connect with their classmates.
    • How do students find people to complete a group assignment (be that an in class project or an out of class project) in your courses?
      • Many transfer students do not know anyone at Cal Poly upon transferring. Often times when group projects are assigned and students are given the liberty to choose their partners, transfers are left out or experience negative assumptions or stereotypes from peers causing them to be overlooked.
    • "...research suggests that peer connections are key to helping transfer students find and use informal learning resources, such as student organizations, mentoring programs, and transfer-focused networking events that help them adjust to the social, academic, and physical environments of the 4-year campus."  - from page 15 of NISTS's Supporting Transfer Student Success: Five Key Faculty Practices
  5. Praise and uplift the prior higher education experience students have.
    • Transfers often report hearing negative comments from students and faculty about their community college coursework, including negating their education altogether based on the stereotype that community college is subpar. Many transfer students also transfer from other four-year colleges, but this experience is not acknowledged by many individuals, which further invalidates the experience and skills they bring to Cal Poly.
    • "Students who complete foundational coursework at community colleges have typically engaged with faculty who are deeply dedicated to the teaching and learning process. We should approach transfer students as experts, collaborators, and partners in building supports and activities that amplify their success. We can do this by communicating literally and in practice: “The invaluable experiences and insights you have gained as a transfer student bring a lot to this place.” That kind of messaging helps transfer students see us as allies and their transfer experience as a strength. We also need to interrogate whether the learning experiences and classroom environments we create truly value and are inclusive of transfer students’ prior education." - pg 6  of NISTS's Supporting Transfer Student Success: Five Key Faculty Practices
    • If you were a transfer, share that! Students love hearing and engaging with other transfers and this helps to normalize transfers to students in your class who may hold stereotypes and assumptions about transfers. Additionally, if you have taught at community college sharing that can achieve similar results in normalizing community college experiences.

We highly encourage you to take time to think and learn more about transfer inclusive teaching by reading National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students guide for Supporting Transfer Student Success: Five Key Faculty Practices.

Creating Transfer Friendly Websites

Research has found that transfers utilize websites at a higher rate then first year first time college students. Additionally, when deciding where to apply and if to accept an admittance transfers often explore website information before visiting, emailing, or calling. Because of this we have worked to create a list of questions for anyone to use so that they can create a more transfer friendly website

  • Does your content require preexisting CP knowledge or understanding? (Don’t assume transfers have CP knowledge)
    • Do you use acronyms and not spell them out?
    • Do you explain what offices do if it is not clearly stated in the office name?
  • Photos and media
    • Do your photos not look like all traditional college students (ie not all looking 18 – 21 years old)?
    • Do students have community college gear on? Students with dependents showcased?
    • Do your photos showcase diversity within our student body?
  • Student stories or feature
    • Are transfers highlighted and it is clearly stated and shared that they are transfers? (If you have stories at least 1 should be a transfer)
    • Are transfers shown from a deficit mindset?
      • Deficit mindset – does the material look mainly at the students weakness or challenges instead of looking at their strengths or potential?
  • Staff/faculty information
    • If anyone was a transfer do they share that in their bio?
    • If anyone has experience working at a community college is that shared in their bio? (You could decide to have a mark by names to show community college experience)
    • If they are not a transfer, but work with them, is this stated or illustrated
  • When discussing support for students coming to Cal Poly...
    • If you mention new students, are you being inclusive to transfers or are you really meaning first time first year students (ie no prior higher education experience)?
    • Do you say first year? If so do you share what the similar option is for new transfers?
      • Do you define, if needed, what you mean by first year or new transfer?
    • Are you basing the language and resources around coming from high school? Or are you acknowledging them coming from college (be that community college or another 4 year)?<
      • Or acknowledging students’ other experiences during their transition (i.e. work, internships, etc.)
  • Resources referrals
    • For identity spaces, do you include the transfer center?
    • For academic support, do you include transfer academic coaches?
    • For student organizations to join, do you include Association of Transfer Students?
    • Do you share about community resources available throughout SLO county? (ie basic needs support off campus)
  • Student advisory boards/councils
    • Do you have a specific mention or position for a transfer?
    • Do you have a requirement for how long they have to have been at CP? (if so, is this something attainable for a transfer on a 2 year path? – if not, can this be adjusted to “total time in college” instead of just time at CP? Or it could be “needs to have ___  academic standing.”
  • Site Navigation
    • Is it quick and easy to find the answers to questions and get information about programs, events, resources, etc?
    • Are hyperlinks used to point to additional relevant information?

List inspired by and conversations with current CP transfers

We have a Staff & Faculty Transfer Advisory Board that meets quarterly to discuss trends and events in the Transfer Center and learn about updated transfer research, if you're interested in joining this advisory board please reach out to us

Research About Transfer Students

What does the word "transfer" mean?

Description of lateral, vertical and alternating transfer students.

Transferring looks different for each student and it's important to be be inclusive of each experience. This is a brief visual description of different types of transfers.

Research, Assessments, and Books

There is a plethora of research that has been conducted on the transfer experience at institutions across the nation, as well as here at Cal Poly. Such research has found that barriers, including institutional policies, personal factors, and non-inclusive environments, significantly impact transfer students' success, ultimately affecting university retention and graduation rates. Check out the information below for more details!

If you are looking to conduct research or learn more about transfers at Cal Poly, check out this Using Data in Our Work with Transfers guide created by the National Institute for the Study of Transfers. 

Cal Poly Transfer Research and Assessment



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