College transfer students have been a significant yet understudied student population. Thankfully, recent studies have uncovered valuable findings on transfer students.
In July 2013, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released Baccalaureate Attainment: A National View of the Postsecondary Outcomes of Students Who Transfer from Two-Year to Four-Year Institutions. The report, which tracked more than 230,000 students, included some informative data about students transferring from two-year institutions to four-year institutions:
- 61.6 percent completed their degree at a four-year institution six years after transfer, and 7.8 percent were still enrolled at a four-year institution.
- Those transferring with a two-year degree or certificate graduated at a rate 15.7 percent higher than those who did not (71.6 percent compared to 55.9 percent).
- Those who transferred to a four-year institution within a year of completing their two-year degree or certificate graduated at a rate 26.3 percent higher than those who transferred after more than one year (66.3 percent compared to 40 percent).
Benchmarking yourself against these data and sharing them with institutional constituents pushing for higher completion rates, greater accountability, and affordability could inform the completion agenda, partnerships, articulation agreements, advising, and student support services on your campus.
Noel-Levitz also produces a report, The Attitudes and Motivations of College Transfer Students, based on survey data from students at four-year and two-year institutions. That report found that many transfer students are concerned about having the resources and support to finish college. For example:
- Many transfer students—up to 62 percent of respondents from four-year public institutions—wanted help with preparing a written academic plan for graduation.
- Only 47 to 49 percent of respondents across institution types were able to affirm that “I have the financial resources I need to finish college.”
- Between 12 and 24 percent of the transfer students in this study acknowledged that they lacked confidence in their academic abilities.
However, our 2013 Student Retention and College Completion Practices Report found that programs designed for transfer students were implemented far less frequently than those for first-year students.
Campuses also rate the effectiveness of their transfer student programs much lower than their first-year programs.
So what can be done to improve our service to and the success of college transfer students? We will examine this issue at the annual conference for the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students on February 6. The session will be a great opportunity to discuss the latest research and also strategies for increasing transfer student retention. I hope if you are attending the conference, you will attend this session. If you are not, send me an email and we can discuss effective methods for increasing the success of transfer students on your campus.
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