Freshman Transition program gives students a second chance

College of Liberal Arts BuildingAccording to a story in the Baltimore Sun, more students are taking advantage of programs like one at Towson University, which allows students to enter conditionally in the fall and become acclimated to the college environment for a semester.

The Freshman Transition program, launched in 2008, “conditionally” admits students who “fall just short of a university’s ideal admissions standards” for the fall semester, when they may move into a dorm and participate in clubs and other activities, but take classes administered by the Community Colleges of Baltimore County (CCBC).

If the students perform well in their classes, they are granted full admission to the university for the coming spring semester.

Erin Garnes took part in the program last year. Though she had good grades in high school, the self-proclaimed bad test-taker performed poorly on the SAT.

“This is basically like getting a second chance at the college experience,” Garnes, now a rising sophomore double-majoring in communications and sports management, told the Sun.

“They don’t make you think like you’re an outsider. You get a Towson ID, you get to live on campus, you take classes on campus. I still felt like a Towson student, I just knew myself I was taking CCBC classes.”

From the Sun:

Her experience mirrors a practice that’s been growing at colleges in Maryland and across the country in recent years — offering some students admission for the spring semester and providing a bridge during the fall to help them adjust to the rigors of college. University admissions officials say the practice allows them to get more people in the door when class and dorm space open up from students dropping out, transferring or studying abroad in the spring.

Students are technically classified as community college students, and so their tuition goes to the institution where they take classes. But the program provides deserving students with a second chance.

“It is an opportunity for the student to go to their first-choice school,” said Ann Gamble, coordinator of Freshman Transition, in an interview with the Sun.

“They get to live on campus, they’re taking pretty much the exact same classes. It lessens that transfer shock because they’re already physically there and they know their way around campus. They get a lot of support, no one slips through the cracks and they don’t feel like a number.”

From the Sun:

Garnes said she came to enjoy her experience in Freshman Transition so much that she now works part time for the university’s admissions office, encouraging other potential students to give it a shot.

She added: “I’m glad I went with it because otherwise I would have ended up somewhere else, and I really love Towson.”

Read the full Baltimore Sun story.