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Repeating Success, Setting Record

By Edwin B. Smith

University of Mississippi

Itawamba Community College President Jay Allen (left); Caitlin Ramage, University of Mississippi assistant director for admissions for transfer recruitment, Lauren Byrd (second from right), UM transfer admissions counselor; and UM Chancellor Glenn Boyce meet with ICC Phi Theta Kappa members transferring to the university. They are (front row, from left) Morgan Young, Emily Edmondson, Gracie James, Gabby Hill, Macey Thomas and Alyssa Freeman and (back row, from left) Stroud Mills, Noah Barnes, Wade Cox and Reece Cantrell. Submitted photo

For the eighth consecutive year, Phi Theta Kappa, a national honor society, has recognized the University of Mississippi for its dedication to supporting transfer students.

UM is among fewer than 200 colleges and universities on the annual Excellence in Community College Transfer Honor Roll, and it remains the only Mississippi university to be recognized consecutively for the last eight years.

“This honor helps us recruit transfer students by signaling to PTK-affiliated students looking to transfer that we are an institution that has a reputation for supporting students through the transfer process and beyond,” said Caitlin Ramage, assistant director of admissions for transfer recruitment. “It also validates the direction of UM transfer recruitment by acknowledging that the activities we have put effort into matter and support the effective transition of our transfer students.”

Nationwide, community college transfers are coping with several issues. Several students said that the PTK chapter helped them meet and overcome such issues at Ole Miss.

Madison Alexander, a senior biochemistry major from Brandon, said PTK influenced her decision to transfer to the university from Hinds Community College.

“After transferring, I was offered the opportunity of one out of two scholarships from excelling in classes and in my community while spending time at my community college,” said Alexander, who serves as chapter treasurer for the honor society. 

“Being a part of the PTK alumni chapter offered a welcoming, inviting and friendly space where we all could share our experiences as well as our concerns.”

Admissions officers attended many different PTK chapter meetings, regional and national conferences, and college fairs to meet prospective transfer students. The honor society also maintains an online database of colleges and universities around the country that its members – prospective transfer students – can use to find a college matching their needs and interests.

The number of dedicated staff serving transfer students, transfer living options and completion rates are all factors in the selection process. The honor society and sense of stability played a major role in why Caitlin Parker transferred to UM from Holmes Community College.

“PTK helped me connect with different transfer students,” said the senior education major from Oakland. “When I first came to this school, I had known only a few students – most not being transfer students. That made me feel smaller than what the average student was. 

“Hence, when I joined PTK, it felt as if I belonged, and I could relate more to different students on campus who held a common trait that I had.”

Tia Adams, of Horn Lake, said the opportunities offered by the honor society were a deciding factor.

“I could not relate to my peers because most of them did not understand the struggle of being the ‘new kid,'” said the senior psychology major, who serves as chapter fellowship chairman. “It was very difficult to navigate my new situation until I found out about the PTK alumni chapter. 

“PTK created a welcoming environment for me. It gives me a space to belong to, along with people that have unique experiences.”

The recognition program reflects the growing importance of transfer students in helping the United States achieve college completion goals and promotes further study and sharing of best practices, said Lynn Tincher-Ladner, the honor society’s CEO and president.

“This award is so important because it is based on what students tell us they need from their transfer experience,” Tincher-Ladner said. “We are honored to recognize the colleges and universities working exceptionally hard to create stronger pathways to bachelor’s degree completion for all students.”

Phi Theta Kappa is the oldest and largest honor society recognizing students pursuing two-year degrees. It has more than 3 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in nine nations.


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