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Identify your target audience. Your
admitted and enrolled transfer student
profiles are a good starting point to identify
the target audience that will become a
reliable foundation for your inquiry pool.
Identifying the students who choose to
apply and enroll, while norming for ongoing
recruitment and outreach initiatives, can
provide valuable insights into what you are
doing well. It also provides an opportunity to
critically assess areas that need improvement,
whether in your policies or practices. To
expand your pool, study your National Student
Clearinghouse data. You likely have former
first-year inquiries and applicants who chose
to enroll in two-year institutions. These
campuses, particularly in secondary and
tertiary markets, provide an opportunity to
engage with an audience that has already
developed institutional affinity and recognizes
your brand, providing immediate momentum
to grow your inquiry pool.
Allow students to easily opt into
the transfer inquiry pool and easily
reactivate their application. Opting
out of the first-year pool should provide
an opportunity to opt into the transfer
pool, especially at the point of application
withdrawal or declining an offer of first-year
admission. This normalizes the transfer route
and allows students to identify the path they
intend to take.
Actively connect this population to the
resources and opportunities available to them
as a future transfer student. If your office has
separate first-year and transfer recruitment
staff, provide students who enter the transfer
pool with a new point of contact and continue
to send them transfer-specific messages.
Develop a system of application reactivation
for students who applied recently as either
first-year or transfer students. Instead of
asking students to formally defer their
admission, allow them to simply reactivate
their previous application/admission offer at
any time within a year of that decision.
Create guided pathways. Provide
wraparound support services to students that
include both academic planning and transition
support. This may take the form of structured



bridge programs, articulation agreements, or
simply robust student support by admission
staff. In Colorado, where we work, institutions
can sign on to a data-sharing and student
support memorandum of understanding with
the community college system. The initiative
allows four-year colleges to build their
inquiry pool while also ensuring students
receive structured guidance and support from
baccalaureate-granting institutions during
their time in the community college system.
While signing on to a large, structured
program like this may not be an option for
your college, each institution can create
clear academic, process-oriented, and
student experience pathways for prospective
transfer students. If possible, work with your
college's academic advisers to provide direct
pre-transfer advising to prospective students.
When students see a clear pathway to and
through your institution, they become more
likely to identify themselves as future students
prior to submitting a transfer application.
Collect data at every turn. Though transfer
students frequently enter the inquiry pool
at the point of application, even with clear
pathways, they often have previously spent
time and energy indicating an interest in
transferring. Simplifying the information
request form on your website, adding a
live chat feature to transfer admission
webpages, or creating inquiry records when
a student calls or emails to ask a question
are easy ways to start collecting student
data earlier in the process. Identify how your
office's customer relationship management
(CRM) system can help detect a transfer
student "raising their hand," work with other
departments to track additional indicators of
student interest, and utilize that information in
a meaningful and high-impact way.
Engage in collaborative partnerships.
Transfer recruitment, like all recruitment,
should be a shared responsibility. One of the
most important relationships to cultivate in
this partnership is the relationship between
the admission staff assigned to support
first-year applicants and those tasked with
assisting transfer applicants. Identify students
in the first-year recruitment or application


review process who are highly engaged and
have a desire to enroll in your institution, but
want or need to take an indirect path to get
there. And don't stop at identifying these
transfer inquiries-actively engage with them.
Continuously improve your policies and
practices. A natural extension of growing
your transfer inquiry pool is patching the
cracks that inevitably develop within your
enrollment process. If you have cultivated a
strong pool of highly engaged and qualified
inquiries, but have made the application
unnecessarily cumbersome or are delaying
course registration until after courses have
reached capacity, the energy and resources
you committed to the top of the funnel will
fail to yield improved returns.
Once a transfer applicant is in your
pool, demonstrate your commitment to
that student by quickly connecting them
to the resources and opportunities they
seek. This includes meaningful financial
aid, expeditious credit evaluation, and clear
information outlining their path to degree
completion. A strategic, thoughtful, and
student-centered approach to building your
transfer inquiry pool is only the beginning of
your journey to increased enrollment.
NACAC members Josh Gabrielson, associate
director of admissions at Metropolitan
State University of Denver (CO); Jack Kroll,
associate director at the University of ColoradoBoulder; and Brittany Pearce, associate
director for transfer initiatives at Colorado
State University, work with transfer students at
their respective institutions.


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