Co-written with Todd White of Noel-Levitz
While some institutions have met their new student enrollment goals as of May 1, most face the challenge of summer recruitment, and transfer students are a big part of this mix. College transfer students are increasingly important in meeting institutional enrollment and revenue goals. However, in a time of nationally declining community college enrollments—along with other demographic changes such as diversity, access, and affordability—colleges and universities face an increasingly daunting task in the recruitment of transfer students. In our work to help colleges meet the needs of students and their enrollment goals, we advise taking an individual approach to recruiting transfer students. In an earlier post from Gary Fretwell, “A 10-point checklist for recruiting college transfer students,” he asks, “Do you have dedicated admissions staff who are trained to respond to transfer student issues?” This is critical to college transfer student recruitment, because each individual transfer student comes to your institution with a broad array of experiences and characteristics. Your staff first has to understand the nature of transfer students and how they differ from traditional undergraduates.
College transfer student characteristics
Transfer students come to your institution with a frame of reference, their previous college experience, which can encompass a variety of experiences. They may be transferring following two successful years at a community college, looking for a fresh start after a poor experience at their first institution, or returning to college after stopping out for any variety of reasons. They also tend to be more focused, having previously selected a major or program of study, and have an idea of the career they want to enter. They often have career, family, financial, and other obligations that can compete with their educational plans. Transfer students may have other characteristics that create enrollment challenges for a campus, such as:
- More likely to be nontraditional students, first-generation students, working students, and students with high financial need;
- Experiencing transition issues (i.e., “transfer shock”);
- Lower levels of student engagement than traditional first-year students;
- Greater need for developmental coursework early in their academic career; and
- Veterans returning to civilian life.
Furthermore, the uncertain economic climate and ability to pay for college may have driven additional students to two-year colleges, resulting in a greater need for transfer recruitment. [Read more…]