Most students start off their college experience with the expectation that college will be the best years of their lives. However, some students did not feel Chapman was the best fit for them and decided to transfer.
“I chose to transfer from Chapman because of a mixture of things,” said Lizzie Whittles, a former Chapman student who has not yet enrolled in a different university. “My classes were not up to par with my expectations. I felt many of my teachers were under qualified.”
It is challenging for the university to track data on students who transfer and the reasons they transfer because students do not need to notify the school when they leave, said Dean of Students Jerry Price.
If students wish to transfer, all they have to do is not enroll for classes. The student may then re-enroll without having to re-apply for up to four semesters. This makes it difficult to track exact data on students who transfer because often the school doesn’t know if the student will come back, or why he or she chose to take time off, Price said.
Chapman has been working on ways to identify and to track the students who leave and the reasons they chose to leave.
“We are going to go back through and retroactively see what those patterns are, which ones started and went straight through in four years, which ones started, stopped, how long it took them to finish and how many started and then transferred,” Price said.
Price added that it is important for students to feel a part of their community, something that Whittles did not feel.
“I was also met with a very shallow, competitive and somewhat harsh social life,” Whittles said. “Everyone was trying to one-up each other and it seemed like no one was ever secure with themselves. I do not fit into an environment like that which made it hard to maintain relationships with friends who did. All of these issues led to me realizing that I could no longer stay at Chapman.”
Price stressed the importance some students place on finding their group of friends.
“For traditional 18-year-old students, feeling a part of your university usually means having found a niche of people they feel a part of,” Price said. “Some students are real extroverts and they can find that easily. For other students it may not happen as naturally. But if we put students together who have similar interests, it makes it easier for them to make that connection.”
The Office of Student Affairs looks at the demographics of students that transfer out of Chapman.
“We look at it by ethnicity and by gender, to see if there are any patterns there. Then we look at it by major and by college, to see if there are any patterns there. We try to look and see what that is telling us,” Price said. “If there are patterns, and this group seems to be leaving at a higher rate than other students, what does that tell us? We then try to make adjustments in the experience of students in that category, that might help remedy what seems to be going wrong, or not going right.”
Anne Jorgenson, a former Chapman student who now attends the University of Texas at Austin, said that a lot of her classes seemed to have a higher emphasis on busy work, rather than application or in-depth learning.
“It wasn’t the school for me, and it sucks I didn’t realize that before attending, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the right fit for someone else,” Jorgenson said. “So far my new school has pushed me as a person and as a student more than Chapman did.”