24 Apr What Are You Doing to Help Your Transfer Students Succeed?

By Lynda McNair, Student Connections

If school, state and national goals related to college completion are to be met, higher education needs to do a better job with helping transfer students succeed. Like their full-time, first-time counterparts, transfer students report a high commitment to attending college and finishing school; however, fewer than one in seven community college students who transfer complete a degree.

Choosing a pathway
 Deciding how to get to their education goals from where they are today can be difficult. Ruffalo Noel Levitz’ 2013 report on The Attitudes and Motivations of College Transfer Students found that up to 62 percent of respondents at four-year public institutions, 58.7 percent at four-year private schools and 49.7 percent at two-year public schools wanted help in preparing a written academic plan for graduation.

Funding College
In the same study, more than half of all transfer students indicated they do not have the financial resources needed to finish their programs of study.  More than half also reported they have financial problems that will interfere with their studies.

Boosting Productivity
Even though they have some college experience behind them, transfer students noted in the study that they would like to receive help with student skills, such as time management, taking notes and exam strategies.

Getting Hired
The majority of respondents in the study wanted the opportunity to explore advantages and disadvantages of their chosen career. Across all institution types, they also wanted help in identifying work experiences or internships related to their major.

There is a lot of activity helping students transfer from public two-year to four-year institutions. A January 2017 study by the Community College Research Center suggests that in the state of Texas, state policy needs to address three primary issues in order to strengthen transfer student success in the state: create stronger transfer pathways, help students choose and stay on a transfer pathway, and build momentum for regional community college-university collaboration to improve transfer outcomes.

Schools are responding to these needs in many ways. Orientation programs specifically designed for transfer students are either required or optional at many institutions. Ruffalo Noel Levitz recommends making these programs required in order to reach a larger number of students. I also noted dedicated advising staff for transfer students at many institutions.

You may want to look at what you are doing to help your new students in the areas of choosing a pathway, funding college and getting hired. Are your current offerings helpful to your transfer population? Do they have the same opportunities to participate as your new students? Are they offered in such a way as to be convenient to your transfer population? Are there institution-specific barriers to transfer-student success that you can address?