When SMU senior Chanesia Johnson graduated from Dallas ISD David W. Carter high school, she knew she wanted more. Only 25 percent of Carter graduates are prepared for college-level reading and math and she was one of them.
The accomplished scholar received and accepted a full-ride scholarship to Dartmouth University.
“I wanted to be an electrical engineer,” she said. “I went to Dartmouth because of the name. It’s an Ivy League, and it was far from Texas.”
But after her first few semesters, Johnson realized she may not have made the best choice. Dartmouth offered a limited number of programs to support students coming from a public, low socio-economic status high school and the dreary New Hampshire weather impacted her emotional well-being. She suffered from seasonal affective disorder and wanted to go back home.
SMU, with its reputable school of engineering, seemed like the best fit for Johnson. But getting into the institution would be no easy fete. SMU transfers seeking a scholarship are required to have at least 50 hours of transferrable credit before receiving acceptance into the university. Although Johnson had over 60 hours of credit, not all of her Dartmouth hours were accepted at SMU.
“Most of the credits I had didn’t transfer into the required GEC courses,” she said. “I had to spend time in the summer to complete my GEC requirements.”
Johnson waited and applied in February of 2012 after she obtained enough transferrable credit hours from Dallas County Community College District, which has an automatic decision deal with SMU.
Students transferring from Austin Community College (ACC) District will now have the chance to take a deal similar to the one Johnson made. The university announced a new partnership with ACC last Tuesday, easing the transfer process for ACC students.
“SMU is committed to increasing our transfer-student numbers and expanding the list of community colleges who send students our way,” said Stephanie Dupaul, SMU associate vice president for enrollment management. “Agreements that allow students to easily transfer community college credits… [gives SMU] the benefits of terrific, highly motivated students.”
Johnson, president of SMU Mustang Transfers, is just one of those many motivated new transfer students. Transfers make up about 19 percent of the undergraduate population and come from across the nation. The ACC agreement gives more than 43,000 Texas students easier access to SMU.
Far too familiar with the problems associated with transferring, Johnson hopes the agreement helps students in the future.
“Most transfer students that I have met that didn’t attend a community college that has a transfer deal with SMU have problems,” she said. “It was a little rough the first year I was here, but I’m starting to get the hang of things.”
The university’s empathy toward transfer students stems from President R. Gerald Turner’s own educational background. Turner started out at Lubbock Christian College and later transferred to Abilene Christian. He eventually went on to receive a master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Texas.
“Transfer students are important to us because they add diversity of life experience in our upper-level classes,” Turner said. “We like to remind people that there’s more than one way to get a degree at SMU.”
SMU Mustang Transfers is a student organization dedicated to easing student’s transition to SMU with social events, dinners, philanthropic activities and more.
To learn more about the transfer student experience, contact the group online.