PAC Program: a place for transfer students

Aeryn Kauffman, Staff Reporter

If you are a transfer student and you have not signed up for the CWU Peer Accountability Connections (PAC) program, what are you doing with your life?

PAC started fall 2018 as a program designed specifically with transfer students in mind. Associate Professor and Instruction Coordinator Elizabeth Brown collaborated with library staff, Academic Advising staff and the Academic Success Center, creating a smorgasbord of resources and support for transfer students.

The group meets once a week in the library to discuss mainly careers and academics. Often, though, there is a focus on study strategies, time management and future plans. Speakers have visited from the Wellness Center, Career Services and the Academic Success Center, and this has all happened in the span of one month. The group learned about Peer-Assisted Learning (PALS), ONET Online, Student Medical and Counseling Center services, graduate school, database research, academic goals and free-writing. I also obtained some swag (a T-shirt, pen, notebook and snacks every meeting). Tell me again why you haven’t signed up yet.

Brown said the program is somewhat popular but could be more successful if more students joined.

“We adapt and modify the program after each quarter based on student feedback … Ideally the students who join PAC strengthen their organization skills, learn about the resources available to support them, and build a network of supportive peers by the end of the program,” Brown said.

If more transfer students joined, it would be even better. The support from similarly-situated students is one of the best parts. I’ve met several students through PAC who are in my age range, which was a breath of fresh air. These are students who have several years of work experience. Many left colleges in the past and are returning in their mid 20s to finish what they started.

This puts transfer students in a unique position because we are looked at as traditional students, but we are anything but. Many of us struggle to make friends and find support on campus. We have already lived on our own for years, some of us have children, and many of us have worked in careers. This makes it hard to relate to many of our peers.

PAC therefore has been an unexpected source of friendship (and people to go to bars with, yay!). I love my roommate, but we cannot go to bars together which is something I enjoy doing on the weekends, occasionally.

The PAC cohort arranged a Sunday scholarship workshop where we researched and applied to dozens of scholarships as a group. This is critical for transfer students, who experience the unique difficulty of securing financial aid.

“Universities typically have not offered [transfer students] scholarships and grants available to first-year students,” Alina Tugend with The New York Times wrote.

The students who are moved out of their parents’ house but aren’t old enough to be considered independent students are in a bind. They must report their parents’ earnings, but their parents’ earnings do not go toward college costs. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) grants “independent student” status to students at 24 years old, which means students do not have to report their parents’ earnings. Transfer students younger than 24, but living independently from their parents are left to struggle. PAC is a great resource for these students.

Transfer students at CWU, PAC is here to support you.

If you are juggling two jobs plus full time classes, PAC has tips for you.

If you furrow your brow indecisively at the question, “what year are you?” PAC has got you covered.

And if you are struggling making friends, PAC is the place to be.