This one factor boosts community college student transfer rates

The average American college student graduates from a four-year university with $29,200 of debt, so it’s no surprise that more high school students are choosing to complete the beginning of their college education at a more affordable community college before transferring to a four-year institution. And when it comes to completing the transfer process, one key factor can greatly increase students’ chances of success. 

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, followed 1,670 first-year students at community colleges in the midwest in 2014. Tracking their progress through 2019, they found that students who were connected with professors or advisors at the university they aspired to transfer to were far more likely to actually complete the transfer process. Students in contact with university staff had a 38 percent transfer rate, compared with just 23 percent of non-connected students. 

Among community college students, 80 percent go into their studies with the intention of transferring to a four-year university, yet only 25 percent actually do so. Connecting with faculty serves the dual purpose of clarifying the educational milestones required for admission and also showing students the educational potential of pursuing their bachelor’s degree. 

This research holds implications for students and schools. Students at community colleges should strive to forge these connection points with their future campus staff members, but community colleges would also immensely benefit their students by creating connection opportunities between students and professors or advisors. A simple guest lecture or open office hours would help more students find extended academic success.

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