Academic journal article College and University

TRANSITIONING TRANSFER STUDENTS: Interactive Factors That Influence First-Year Retention

Academic journal article College and University

TRANSITIONING TRANSFER STUDENTS: Interactive Factors That Influence First-Year Retention

Article excerpt

This study examined the diverse patterns of interactive factors that influence transfer students' first-year retention at a midsize four-year university. The population for this study consisted of five cohorts totaling 1,713 full-time, degree-seeking transfer students. Sequential sets of logistic regression analyses on blocks of variables were applied to student groups of different transfer status. Findings revealed that transfer credit hours, transfer GPA, college of last attendance, institutional scholarships, post-transfer GPA, and earned credit hours significantly influenced first-year retention. There were diverse patterns of interactive impact factors on first-year retention across the groups of students based on different transfer status. Distinctive patterns of impact factors in retention based upon transfer status of credit hours require diverse retention strategies and efforts.

The 2002 National Survey of Student Engagement (nsse) indicates that the transfer student population represents approximately 40 percent of the nation's undergraduate students. Once seen as institutions catering only to nontraditional students, community colleges now offer programs attractive to traditional undergraduate students, in essence acting as a starting point for many students entering the higher e ducation system and a step stone for transferring to universities. As such, the transfer student population from community colleges significantly contributes to the whole student populations for many four-year institutions.

Jacob, et al. (2004) contend that the transfer student population is the "forgotten" group in comparison to the resources provided and efforts made to attract and retain traditional freshmen. Tinto (1993) insists that transfer student retention does not receive adequate attention in the discussion of retention efforts. Given the rapid increase in the transfer population, this lack of attention may have a negative effect on an institution's ability to successfully engage and retain transfer students.

As retention rate continues to be seen as one of the essential indicators of university performance, understanding the characteristics and factors influencing retention is crucial to improving the retention of transfer students. This is increasingly important in light of the fact that many states are experiencing decreases in the projected number of high school graduates. As four-year institutions attract transfer students, the retention of these students becomes dependent on the manner in which the institution can be both proactive and creative in the development of retention programs associated with this unique population. Institutions that create successful retention programs for transfer students are able to address the unique needs, questions, and concerns associated with the transfer student population (Jacob, et al., 2004).

This study intends to develop a group of sequential models that determines what factors of pre-transfer characteristics, financial aid, and post-transfer first-year academic performance significantly influence transfer students' retention to their second year. Specific to this research, the sequential sets of models illustrate the interactive relationships between the blocks of variables and identified factors influencing transfer students' retention and their continued enrollment in a mid-sized, moderately selective public university in the Midwest. Distinctive patterns of influential variables were identified and examined across the student groups of different transfer status.

Schlossberg, Waters, and Goodman's (1995) transition model provides theoretical insights into factors related to a transfer student's transition experience from college to college. In this model, a transition is defined as any event (or nonevent) that results in changed relationships, routines, assumptions, and roles. Specifically, as the individual student's transfer process unfolds, the individual moves from preoccupation with the transition to integration of the transition. …

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