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Transfer Student Success Rates

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August 16, 2013

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Transfer Student Success Rates

A new analysis from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Research Center finds that more than 60 percent of students who transferred from two-year to four-year institutions in the 2005-2006 school year had obtained bachelor's degrees, while an additional 8 percent were still working on their degrees, within six years.

In addition:

  • Baccalaureate attainment rates were higher for students who transferred with a two-year degree or certificate (72 percent) than for those who transferred without a credential (56 percent).
  • Students transferring to a four-year public institution had a 65 percent completion rate, compared to a 60 percent completion rate for those transferring to a four-year private institution.
  • Completion was much more likely when students transferred within one year than when students were out of school for longer.
  • Students attending full time after transfer had a better chance of graduating than those who attended part time or who blended full- and part-time enrollment.

The authors speculate that the higher completion rate for students moving to four-year public institutions rather than private institutions may be owing to the greater prevalence of articulation agreements between community colleges and public schools, allowing students to transfer more credits.

Related research of the North Carolina Community College System has also demonstrated that transfer outcomes are better for students who complete an associate degree at the community college level before transferring than for those who transfer early to a four-year institution. In addition, a recent research study finds no penalty for community college students transferring to bachelor's degree programs. According to researchers Eric J. Lichtenberger and Cecile Dietrich, full-time community college students who transfer to four-year schools are as likely to complete a bachelor's degree as rising four-year college juniors, when matched on factors such as demographics, pre-college achievement, work status and financial aid.

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