CAB Spotlights are feature articles designed to help you get to know the current Client Advisory Board members. The CAB serves as a liaison between CollegeSource and the community of people using CollegeSource software to maximize the higher education experience. Each spotlight will be presented in a “Q&A” interview style and provide insights into CAB member institutions, what they are passionate about, and their perspective on issues within the higher education community. Additionally, CAB members may share funny stories and anecdotes about themselves, tips and/or advice, and what they have learned from being on the CAB. We hope that these articles give you a new way to connect with the CAB and appreciate why each member was selected to represent our user community.
In the Spotlight: Sarah Hatfield
Sarah is the Curriculum and Transfer Specialist in the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Office of the Registrar. She manages and oversees all domestic transfer credit processing, and assists with the management of international transfer credit. She has been with UMD for two years. UMD is a PeopleSoft institution that utilizes DARwin, TES, and Transferology. Prior to UMD, Sarah worked as the Transfer Coordinator/DARS Specialist for two years at Lake Superior College. Sarah originally began her career as a philosophy instructor.
Looking back over your years in higher education, what has changed in higher ed that might not be understood or apparent to someone from the outside or who has just joined the community?
The field of higher education has definitely been changing. Aside from some regional variation, institutions are seeing decreased enrollment, as there are fewer students entering and completing high school. There is an increased focused on transfer students, and also on retention. Students and their families are becoming more fiscally aware and are concerned about paying for higher education.
What do you believe is a recent trend or on the horizon for higher ed? What problems do you think it needs to, will have to solve?
Recent trends in higher education include competency-based education, a focus on credit for prior learning, and an interest by many institutions in developing their online course offerings. We are also seeing initiatives focused on allowing students to transfer university and college-level credit back to their community college, after they have left, to retroactively obtain an A.A. degree.
What is the best thing about your job? The most challenging thing? What strategies do you use to make yourself more productive/efficient, give better service, or keep your job fresh?
I really enjoy working with the students, faculty and staff at UMD. I like being able to offer assistance and guidance to them, and like being able to learn more about my field so I can be an expert for them. I enjoy being able to teach others about the technologies we use to process transfer credit, being able to look at complex problems, and being able to analyze them and offer solutions. I like being involved in the understanding the changing landscape of higher education, and thinking about policy and its impact.
In terms of the most challenging aspect of my job, I would say that as we see students take more classes at multiple institutions, we have more to keep up with, and more transfer evaluation decisions to monitor and update as curriculum changes. However, I try work efficiently, prioritize my tasks, and divide my day so I tackle multiple necessary tasks. We have a great team at UMD, and we are fortunate to have multiple people who work in transfer credit. We collaborate and work together to help our students and faculty and give the best service we can. In terms of keeping my job fresh, I subscribe to newsletters, attend conferences whenever possible, and enjoy talking with colleagues at other institutions to see what they are doing and how I can learn from them.
Why CollegeSource? What do the products do for you that is critical to your, and student success? How are the products used well at your institution and what are the opportunities you have yet to tackle with them?
CollegeSource is a great asset to UMD and its transfer students. We utilize DARwin, TES, and Transferology to process transfer credit, evaluate courses for transfer, and display transfer credit decisions to our prospective and current students (this includes students who go elsewhere but return for summer to take classes in their hometown!).
What is something fun the community might not know about you (hobbies, quirks, experiences, etc.)?
I spent a year teaching a Zumba class. It was a very fun yet challenging experience!I don’t teach it anymore, but I still love Zumba and go to classes every week.
Are you part of any associations, are there industry conferences you regularly attend, or online groups you recommend? How does interacting with your peers from other institutions help you do your job more effectively?
I recently became a member of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC). I attended their 2015 conference as a Transfer Grant Recipient. Every year I attend the MnSCU Transfer Specialist Conference, and greatly enjoy meeting with, and learning from former MnSCU colleagues. This is a great conference, because peers from the area community colleges, universities, and private and public colleges come together and share their knowledge, experiences and practices. I love learning about what other institutions are doing to help transfer students, and make students’ experiences better.
What advice would you give to first-time attendees or users trying to decide about attending the annual CollegeSource Conference? What tips can you give to help them be successful and get the most out of the experience, what should they know before they go?
I would highly recommend going to the CollegeSource conference! I think anyone will find it to be a valuable experience, whether they are new to using CollegeSource products or are experienced users wanting to learn more. Two years ago, I was a first time attendee. I really enjoyed meeting CollegeSource staff; it gave me the chance to put faces to the names of people that I commonly reach out to. Attending the conference has strengthened my communication with the company and given me a number of opportunities to network with people who do similar work across the country. I definitely learned more about the products we use on campus, and was able to report back important information to my school about new features soon to be available in TES and Transferology. I was also able to talk with the developers and give them feedback about my experience with CollegeSource products, and how my campus uses TES, in particular. At this last conference in Boston, my second, I really enjoyed not just being a user of CollegeSource products, but a user who is actively involved in the CollegeSource community.
The CollegeSource User Conference is a great opportunity to learn more about u.achieve, u.direct, and the new features and functionality of TES and Transferology. I love learning about what’s new and what’s on the horizon!
What have you learned from being on the CAB?
Being a member of the CAB has given me the chance to share insights with CollegeSource into how UMD uses CollegeSource products and about the needs of students on our campus. At the same time, it has made me think about how I might be able to help others in the CollegeSource user community who are interested in learning more about TES, Transferology, and u.achieve. I’ve enjoyed learning about the company, and the complex issues that it faces in growing its products, supporting its user base, and coming up with new and innovative ideas to assist students in transferring their credits to other colleges and universities.
Are there any projects or objectives the CAB are working on now about which you can share insight or progress made?
My current work in the CAB is focused on providing more support to users of TES. We are high-volume users of TES at UMD, and I am looking forward to being able to reach out to other TES users, and to sharing my experience with them. I’m doing the first Community Share Series webinar in a few weeks, and I think that will be a great start. I’m excited to have an opportunity to share some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way!