Academic journal article Community College Review

Predictors of Transfer to 4-Year, For-Profit Institutions

Academic journal article Community College Review

Predictors of Transfer to 4-Year, For-Profit Institutions

Article excerpt

Logistic regression was employed to determine whether student transfer to for-profit, 4-year colleges (as opposed to other 4-year colleges) is a function of students' social background characteristics, the students' academic experiences at the community college, and the transfer context of the community college attended (i.e., the overall transfer rate of students from the community college and the distance of the community college from a public university). Study results, based on records for 613,595 California community college students who transferred to 4-year institutions between July 2000 and June 2004, indicate that the strongest predictors of transfer to for-profit institutions include part-time enrollment, age, and grade point average. However, students of color were more likely to transfer to for-profit institutions than White students, and students attending community colleges with lower overall transfer rates were also more likely to transfer to the for-profit sector. Finally, students who used the community college transfer center were less likely to transfer to 4-year, for-profit universities.

Keywords: for-profit institutions; student transfer; minority students; transfer centers; transfer rates; California


Although the literature on college access suggests that the selectivity of a student's baccalaureate institution has a far-reaching effect on future social and economic opportunities (Bowen & Bok, 1998; Karabel & McClelland, 1987; Lee & Brinton, 1996; Lewis & Kingston, 1989; Sewell & Hauser, 1975; Smart & Pascarella, 1986), scholarship about the community college transfer function has yet to adequately address this issue. Within states with well-developed public higher education systems, the debate surrounding community college transfer has focused almost exclusively on transfer to institutions within the public sector of higher education, dealing specifically with the enhancement of transfer to the most selective group of institutions within the public segment. This focus has allowed an important trend--the rise of the 4-year, for-profit university as a transfer destination for community college students (California Community College Chancellor's Office, 2002)--to emerge with relatively little notice. Because for-profit institutions have a general reputation for being less selective and for attracting low-income and minority students who are heavy users of federal student aid programs (Kinser, 2006; Phipps, Harrison, & Merisotis, 1999; Ruch, 2001), it is important to recognize whether these institutions appeal to similar groups of community college students. Understanding institutional and student characteristics associated with transfer to for-profit institutions can help determine whether community colleges and public universities could restructure curriculum delivery strategies, enrollment practices, or student support services to facilitate transfer to more selective institutions for particular groups of students.

The purpose of this study is to examine and assess the predictive power of student and institutional characteristics in the transfer process and, in so doing, to elaborate our understanding of community college transfer behavior. Specifically, this study explores the characteristics of community college students who have chosen to transfer to 4-year, for-profit institutions.

Related Literature

Conceptual Framework

For the most part, previous research in the area of community college transfer has focused on general transfer rates and trends (Grubb, 1991) and on impediments to transfer and baccalaureate attainment observed at the community college (Dougherty, 1987, 1992; Dougherty & Kienzel, 2006; Lee & Frank, 1990). To date, there has been little scholarship related to the transfer choice process of community college students; however, there is a substantial body of literature on the college choice process as it relates to the transition between high school and college. …

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