Lehigh has not decided on its planned tuition increase of 4 percent. The university has planned to reopen campus for the fall 2020 semester. (Megan Burke/B&W Staff)

Admissions counselors identify first-years for transitions list

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Before students in Lehigh’s class of 2022 set foot on campus, admissions counselors will have created a transitions list of those who might need additional help getting acclimated to the new phase of their lives.

The practice exists to help students who could be particularly vulnerable as they start their Lehigh careers.

Krista Evans, the interim director of admissions, said there are many reasons why a student can be placed on the transitions list, including a family death, socioeconomic status, mental health concerns, the size of their high school, or having a first-generation status.

Evans said counselors sometimes notice an aspect of an applicant’s life that could potentially impact their transition into college.

The transitions list was implemented seven years ago in a joint effort between the Admissions Office and Dean of Students Office to provide mental health support. Students on the list come from every demographic.

“Students share a lot of personal information with us, and we take it very professionally and confidentially,” Evans said. “Yet at the same time, this student may need extra support when they get to Lehigh.”

Once a student is placed on the transitions list, Evans said it is given to the dean of students with a few comments.

Students who are flagged are not aware of their placement on the transitions list. Evans said the practice is solely for internal purposes to ensure students are transitioning well socially, academically and personally.

“Maybe it’s academic or maybe it’s personal, but this is someone that could use a little check-in from someone at Lehigh to ensure their success,” Evans said.

Kate Robinson, the assistant dean of academic transitions, said the transitions list represents a wide population that includes students who are just fine adjusting to Lehigh and those who are more likely to need support in the future.

“I think we always have to be careful when we identify these students to not set up that expectation that they will struggle more than is expected because that’s not always the case,” Robinson said.

At the beginning of the academic year, Robinson or someone from the Dean of Students Office reaches out to these students to offer support and resources.

Robinson said these resources are available to every single Lehigh student. However, she and her office might be more proactive in encouraging students on the transition list to use them.

“Everyone struggles transitioning into college, but what we need to do at Lehigh is normalize the use of resources,” Robinson said. “I think it is always helpful to have a touch point in an office who cares about you and wants to assist you.”

Angelica Benares, ’20, an admissions ambassador, said transitioning to Lehigh is difficult for every student, whether it be acclimating to the university’s rigorous curriculum or getting used to being away from home.

“Any program that offers support to students transitioning into college is beneficial,” she said. “It can be extremely hard to keep up with Lehigh, especially if you’re not used to it. Having someone look out after you and guide you through college can make that transition a bit easier.”

Evans said the Admissions Office can serve as the bridge to make the first-year experience smoother.

“We need to make sure that we are caring for and supporting these students because we are bringing them into this community,” Evans said. “Every students’ path at Lehigh is a little bit different.”

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