Games. Mass selfies. Orientations to college life. Hundreds of your peers. And let’s not forget the free t-shirts with your class year boldly printed on the front. K Week at UK can be a magical experience. If you’re a freshman, that is.
Each year, close to 1,000 students from the Kentucky Community and Technical College System transfer to UK. This is a significant number of students who will migrate each year to UK.
Many of these transfer students will come to UK as juniors, having completed a two-year degree at community college. When they arrive, UK welcomes them, for the most part, as freshmen. Free t-shirts passed out will group them in with a class graduating two years after them. Banners and posters and fanfare celebrated the Class of 2022 (in this year’s case) when there are actually close to 1,000 new members of the Class of 2020. In doing this, UK is sending a message that it doesn’t value transfer students as legitimate students.
UK did it best in 2016, according to an online schedule. During that K Week, they held multiple events for transfer students through the course of the festivities. In 2017, however, there was only one event for transfer students. This year, no events were listed on UK’s website dedicated specifically for transfer students. Some language in the schedule even invites students to come socialize with “other first year students.” This not only excludes transfer students; it also insults their existence by refusing to acknowledge them.
UK should devote one whole day of K Week just for transfer students. This would allow them to find much-needed comraderie that first year students find so easily during normal K Week activities. Transfer students, like freshmen, need to be surrounded by people at their grade level.
Incoming transfer students will already be orientated to college life, having attended similar orientations during their first years, and will likely find some of the information sessions during K Week to be repetitive. They will still enjoy specific college meetings, club activities and general socializing, but they need specific times to make connections with their peers.
In addition to allotting more time for transfer students, UK should adjust its language to be more inclusive of third-year incoming students. Only then will they feel truly welcomed as part of the UK community.