A Third of Students Transfer Before Graduating, and Many Head Toward Community Colleges

One-third of all students switch institutions at least once before earning a degree, says a report released on Tuesday by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

The “traditional” path of entering and graduating from the same institution is decreasingly followed, the report says. Students transfer across state lines and institution types, and even “reverse transfer” from four-year to two-year colleges.

The report—”Transfer and Mobility: A National View of Pre-Degree Student Movement in Postsecondary Institutions,” published in partnership with Indiana University’s Project on Academic Success—examines students’ increasingly complex transfer patterns. It looks at nearly 2.8 million full- and part-time students of all ages, at all institutional types, over a five-year period beginning in 2006.

Transfer rates are similar for full- and part-time students, 32.6 and 33.9 percent, respectively, the study found. More than a quarter of all transfers cross state lines, and students’ preferred destination is public two-year institutions (except when those are the origin). The most common time for transfer, the report says, is in a student’s second year.

Most data analysis focuses on institutions, the report says, viewing students “as simply entering, progressing linearly, and completing a degree or not.” In this presentation, it says, “students are the unit of analysis, and institutions are viewed as stepping stones along a diverse set of educational paths.”

College administrators and policymakers need to get a better handle on the issue of student mobility to ensure that they are putting in place effective policies, say the report’s authors. “This view could lead to new approaches and metrics that better inform students and institutions about the range of successful enrollment patterns,” they write.

And not just students who earn associate degrees should be taken into account, said Donald Hossler, executive director of the research center. “There is a lot of attention given to post-degree transfers, but not about the mobility of students before they earn a degree.” he said. “We are presenting information in a way that is seldom done.” (Read more.)

Via Jennifer Gonzalez, The Chronicle of Higher Ed.

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A Welcome Mat for Community-College Transfer Students

Research shows that only about 10 percent of students who enter community colleges end up getting a bachelor’s degree, even though surveys find that between 50 and 80 percent of incoming community college students have that goal. The very low transfer and completion rates are enormously problematic on a number of different levels.

For one thing, given that increasing numbers of students are choosing to begin tertiary education at community colleges, the low transfer rate will severely hamper the efforts of higher education to meet the projected growing demand for more employees with bachelor’s degrees.

For another, the low rate of transfers weakens community colleges themselves. To the extent that two-year institutions become widely known as places where very few students eventually go on to earn B.A.’s, middle- and upper-middle-class students are likely to shy away from community colleges. This flight, in turn, could further weaken the political and cultural capital of the two-year sector. (Research finds that this is already happening.)

Likewise, low transfer rates hamper the efforts of more selective colleges to maintain and increase racial and socioeconomic diversity. The lack of socioeconomic diversity at the nation’s most selective 146 institutions—where wealthy students outnumber low-income students by 25:1—has long been a national disgrace. And new threats to racial affirmative action in the courts suggest that selective four-year institutions may need to find new ways to build diversity. One way is to providing an admissions preference to promising students currently enrolled in community colleges, 42 percent of whom are the first in their family to attend college, and 45 percent of whom are from an underrepresented racial minority group.

Read more.

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Decrease Barriers to Transferring with More Articulation Agreements

Postsecondary students are highly mobile; About two-thirds attend more than one postsecondary institution, and one-quarter attend more than two institutions. Thus, student transfer between colleges must be a smooth process if students are to succeed. Unfortunately, many barriers arise for students throughout the transfer process, impeding their ability to attain a degree. A new issue brief suggests two tools to aid in this process: articulation agreements and prior learning assessments.

An articulation agreement, typically agreed upon by at least two institutions, is a policy that clearly specifies how and which credits will be accepted by another college toward a degree program. All but six states support statewide articulation agreements connecting public postsecondary institutions across the state. Though articulation agreements are becoming more common, the issue brief points out that they still do not exist among all institutions and that many of students’ credits are still lost in the transfer process.

The brief also recommends using prior learning assessments to allow more experienced students to earn credit for out-of-classroom college level experience.

Many institutions are making strides in implementing articulation agreements and prior learning assessments, but more widespread use and improvement of the tools is needed to remove barriers for transferring students.

Via NASDCTEC.

Posted in Postsecondary (13-18). Tags: , . Comments Off on Decrease Barriers to Transferring with More Articulation Agreements