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All pre-conference workshops are scheduled from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. on Wednesday, February 5th. The cost to attend is $125 per person, which includes a beverage break, sack lunch, and all workshop materials. 

You may add a workshop to your conference registration during the online sign-up process. If you've already submitted your registration and would like to attend a workshop, please email for assistance. 

Advocating for Transfer Student Success

Higher education leaders are slowly beginning to realize the positive impact transfer student do and can have on their campus and to their enrollment strategy.  However, at many institutions and across many systems it is still very difficult and complex to complete the transfer process.  In order to improve the processes and experiences, transfer students need advocates on the campus to challenge the status quo and influence change across the cultural norms of the institution. Opportunities exist for cross-functional areas and divisions to create more unified programmatic initiatives, but someone must take the lead to make these new partnerships function to the benefit of transfer students.  Advocates at all levels are needed to direct the required changes and mind-shift to reimagine how things should be done.  The ability to advocate on behalf of students takes training and education to appropriately build the case for supporting transfer students and their needs. 

Staff and faculty at all levels are poised to build opportunities for heralding a change in how institutions manage the transfer process and serve this ever-increasing population base. These same practitioners and academics who want to advocate on behalf of transfer students are also challenged by a culture in higher education that includes resistance to change and/or slow-moving action to make change occur.  An intentional emphasis on advocacy by higher education professionals can lead to greater accountability for the transfer student experience and potentially increasing recruitment and retention of transfer students. However, everyone involved should envision the general idea of advocacy through a shared lens.

This pre-conference workshop is designed for higher education professionals at all levels who are interested in developing skills and strategies for advocating for transfer students on their campuses. The presenters will: 

  • discuss the key concept of advocacy and how faculty, staff, and administrators can work closely together to build a culture of collaboration that encourages institution-wide advocacy for transfer students and the complex experience they endure.

  • teach participants how to advocate at various levels and what is needed to communicate systemic change to improve the transfer students’ life cycle at the institution.

  • share a framework for transfer student advocacy and illustrate how to advocate at various levels using case study examples and role-playing activities to build skill development.

  • review specific advocacy competencies, including in-the-moment education, building relationship capital, using data to support requests for dedicated transfer resources

  • assist participants in developing strategies to apply what they have learned to advocate for transfer students to colleagues, supervisors, faculty, and administrators.

Participants seeking an opportunity to participate in professional development that can build their skills in reflective listening and empathy, relationship building, data gathering, and communicating key transfer-focused messages will be interested in this workshop.


Dr. Mark Allen Poisel, Higher Education Consultant

NISTS Advisory Board Member


Dr. Toyia Younger, Vice President for Leadership Development and Membership Services

American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU)

NISTS Advisory Board Member

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How might we use human-centered design to transform
transfer on your campus?


Are you looking for a new or different way of approaching innovation and culture change on your campus? Join the members of the Education Design Lab in a session focused on helping you, and other members of your campus team, learn HOW to set up a design challenge on your campus. Drawing from lessons learned throughout the Seamless Transfer Pathways Project, participants will work together to identify possible opportunity spaces for change on their campuses and then create a design question and a plan for moving forward. Participants will learn and use a variety of human-centered design tools that will equip them with a plan of action, as well as a concept or idea to “test” with other NISTS presenters and participants throughout the conference.


Session Topics:

  • Introduction to human-centered design

  • Setting up a design challenge on your campus

  • Building a design team to break across silos on your campus

  • Student-centered design tools and how they can be used in daily practice


Who is this session for?

  • Transfer administrators and practitioners (admissions, advising, and all other student services staff)

  • Note: We recommend that participants attend in pairs/teams if possible and to come with data in hand of their current transfer student population. More guidance will be provided for attendees a few weeks prior to the conference.


This session is designed to help participants:

  • Learn the four-phased student-centered design process and how to incorporate student voice to design and build a new student-centered transfer initiative on campus

  • Understand how to effectively build a core team and engage stakeholders across campus

  • Practice design tools such as Empathy Mapping, Journey Mapping, and Personas to gain insight on the transfer student population

  • Generate a Design Question and Engagement Roadmap to execute a design challenge on their own campus

Marta Urquilla, Chief Program Officer

Education Design Lab

Leslie Daugherty, Design Coach

Education Design Lab

Binh Thuy Do, Director of Projects

Education Design Lab

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Reimagining How We Conduct Our Transfer Practices:
Utilizing Inquiry to Better Understand Transfer Equity


As the engine of access and opportunity to higher education, two-year colleges are the institution of choice for the growing Latinx community, first-generation college-goers, low-income students, and many more who have been deprived of educational opportunities that are taken for granted by economically-advantaged populations. Often, higher education practitioners turn to “best practices” in an attempt to increase transfer rates for all students and, specifically, racially minoritized students. At the Center for Urban Education, the importance of “best practitioners” rather than “best practices” are considered key to increasing transfer rates for racially minoritized students. Best practitioners develop context-dependent knowledge by conducting an inquiry into their transfer practices and use this knowledge and their experiences to facilitate student success. 


Inquiry is a systematic way to reflect on our practices and practices of our institutions to learning what is and is not working – specifically for racially minoritized students. Transfer inquiry is the process of trying to understand why transfer equity gaps are occurring and can take many forms. For example, inquiry into classroom practice might include the analysis of course-level data disaggregated by race or a document review of course syllabi and assignments from a transfer equity perspective. Inquiry into student services could consist of observations of the transfer center or a review of student orientation from a transfer equity perspective.


This workshop is designed to help participants:

  • Learn about the critical elements of being an equity-minded transfer practitioner

  • Understand different forms of equity-minded transfer inquiry (e.g., observations, document analysis)

  • Practice specific inquiry methods using already established protocols

  • Identify context-specific opportunities for transfer inquiry on individual campuses



Dr. Megan M. Chase, Research and Policy Specialist, Center for Urban Education
University of Southern California

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Reimagining the Prior Learning Assessment Experience
at [Insert Institution Name Here]


One key to being transfer-friendly is awarding credit for what students already know. Discover how the University of West Georgia (UWG) converted a small grant into huge momentum for expanding prior learning assessment (PLA) options. Develop your strategy to repeat UWG’s success on your campus by identifying needs, implementing action steps to begin the transformation, and constructing an outline of milestones for the next academic year. Dare to reimagine the PLA experience at your institution!


This workshop helps participants develop a strategy tailored to expand PLA options on their campuses by taking into account their unique organizational structure, providing tools to navigate the political dynamics they must confront, and offering ideas to maximize resources. Participants will join in activities and facilitated discussion, learning to identify areas of need for PLA expansion at their institutions, implement simple action items that lead to improvement, and construct an outline of milestones that lead to reimagining PLA at their institutions within an academic year.

This workshop is designed to help participants:


Create a plan to expand PLA options for students by the end of the next academic year by


  • identifying areas of need for PLA expansion at your institution,

  • implementing simple action items that lead to improvement, and

  • constructing an outline of milestones


Dr. Jill Drake, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs
University of West Georgia


Danny Gourley, Director of Center for Adult Learners and Veterans
University of West Georgia


Stefane Raulerson, Assistant Director of Center for Adult Learners and Veterans
University of West Georgia

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Transfer Essentials: Trends, Barriers, and Promising Practices

As the national college completion spotlight shines brightly on transfer student populations, the professionals who serve them are being asked to do more. Some of these individuals have worked in transfer for years, while others are being asked to navigate uncharted territory on campuses just beginning to take an interest. This workshop targets all levels of professionals who are interested in learning more about the many functional areas within transfer and the complexities associated with facilitating transfer student success. It serves as a comprehensive examination of current trends and how to facilitate transfer student success, while also providing time for meaningful dialogue. 

This workshop is designed to help participants:


  • Understand why transfer is important—from myths, demographics and trends to unpacking current research and best practices;

  • Become transfer advocates with the ability to identify potential barriers in championing transfer work;

  • Create a realistic vision for transfer student success and an initial action plan for next steps.


Dr. James D. Mantooth, Executive Director of Enrollment Services and Student Engagement
University of Tennessee at Martin

NISTS Advisory Board

Dr. Kim Morton, Associate Director, Office of Transfer Services

Appalachian State University

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Transfer Success from Scratch: Developing a Transfer
Academic Success or Transition Course


In this half-day session, participants will discuss the advantages of using credit-bearing transition courses to support transfer students’ first-year success. The presenters will introduce a typology of transition courses (e.g., extended orientation, transfer writing/research seminar, and academic success) and will provide a framework for proposing such courses at one's home campus. Using curriculum design models tailored for non-traditional students, the participants will work in groups to brainstorm key phases of course development. New or veteran practitioners to the field who have been tasked with developing formalized structures (credit or non-credit solutions) to mitigate the effects of transfer shock are invited to participate. Participants will leave with a packet of templates and materials to help facilitate the transition course development process.


This workshop is designed to help participants:

  • Identify the specific steps to developing a course and utilize provided templates to begin a framework for course design for non-traditional populations.

  • Identify their campus partners and stakeholders that should be included in a course planning process. 

  • Discuss cultural and contextual issues on their specific campuses that will influence development and implementation of a transfer student success course, including achieving buy-in from the academic community and marketing the course to students.

  • Recognize the importance of developing and assessing the achievement of measurable objectives related to the program.

  • Begin a dialogue and network with other transfer student professionals interested in this area.

Dr. Kimberly Burgess, Faculty, Transfer Student Services
Florida State University


Dawn Adolfson, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Transfer Student Services
Florida State University


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