Community College Transfers Shut out of Elite Colleges

Article excerpt

The doors of the nation's most selective colleges and universities have begun closing in the faces of low-income transfer students from community colleges, suggests a new study by the University of Massachusetts-Boston and the University of Southern California.

"The Study of Economic, Informational and Cultural Barriers to Community College Student Transfer Access at Selective Universities" found 10.5 percent of students entering elite, private, four-year schools were transfer students in 1984. But by 2002, that percentage had been cut in half, to 5.7 percent.

Students who do manage to transfer are usually atypical community college students from well-to-do families, the study says. Making that transfer is an immense task that needs a lot of guidance, particularly from community college faculty and administrators, says Dr. Alicia C. Dowd, the study's lead researcher.

About half of all minority undergraduate students attend community colleges, according to statistics from the American Association of Community Colleges.

At least one critic questioned the report's credibility. The report's data are too dated [through 2002] to use to "demand changes in an American system of higher education that is actually working both effectively and democratically--especially in today's climate of high-stakes achievement testing;' wrote Robert Oliphant in an op-ed piece in Education News. …