Report: Students Who Transfer From Community College to 4-Year Schools Show Excellent Outcomes

A new report from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation reveals that community college students who transfer to selective schools perform as well as or better than those who enroll directly from high school or who transferred from other four-year schools.

Thinking of transferring from community college to a four-year university? Check these expert answers to FAQs: lets you check frosh and transfer graduation rates at UCs (which, along with CSUs, target having about a third of graduates originating at community colleges).

It looks like at UC overall, transfers’ 2-year graduation rates are lower than frosh 4-year graduation rates, but transfers’ 3- and 4-year graduation rates are higher than frosh 5- and 6-year graduation rates. This suggests that transfers are more likely to finish, but more likely take an extra quarter or semester beyond the nominal time (average time to degree for 2010 entrants to UC overall was 4.18 years for frosh, 2.38 years for transfers). The need for extra quarters or semesters may be due to not every community college having full coverage of every lower division course for many popular majors at UCs (e.g. computer science is often difficult to find full coverage for, due to variation in UC lower division computer science courses), so transfer students in these majors have to “catch up” after transfer.

But as the study says, like at the ivies, the transfers are more likely to graduate, which was their point.

I suspect it’s because the bar is so high for admittance for transfer students.

Yes, but the UC data shows that the JKCF’s conclusion should not be surprising, despite the disdain against community college transfers commonly found on these forums.

Note that much attrition of college students happens in frosh year, when students new to college have difficulty with the transition from the highly supervised environment of high school to the much more self-directed environment of college (even at colleges that have lots of student services and an integrated residential experience like many highly selective private colleges). Transfer students have already succeeded at college (often at colleges with far fewer resources for student services in the case of community colleges), so the transition to college that some frosh have difficulty with is not an issue for them.

I knew this 40+ years ago. I was a cc transfer (alas, to a decent but not super selective university). I was in a tough major and saw a lot of classmates wash out in the first year of cc, but those who didn’t tended to do very well as transfers.
I don’t have the data to support what I observed. I do recall studies showing that students who transferred from my cc to our state flagship (UIUC) had higher GPA’s in the final 2 years than those who were there from freshman year on. I would have kept those articles if I had thought about it :slight_smile:
Despite a lot of people’s disdain for cc’s, they do attract some number of students who are very academically talented and ambitious.

I’ve always been a fan fo JKC Fdn, but surprised that they would actually publish this.

In the 3rd Par of the first page they clearly note that they have ZERO info on the income/other demographics of the transferring population. (Too bad, bcos that was my first question when I saw the headline of this thread, i.e., what is the income and work levels of those transferring to highly selective schools? Note, that the tippy tops like Stanford prefer non-trads transfers, while other highly selective schools like NYU have crappy finaid.) But then the report goes on to say, even given the limits, we went ahead and published this report bcos "we do believe that high-achieving students who aren’t affluent should have access to the same opportunities and resources as their more advantaged peers. "

In other words, ‘we have no idea of the economic of the transfers in this so-called study, but we’ll just assume that they are all poor’ so we can support our pov.

Yes, on average, community college students are poorer than those students who attend a highly selective college (half of which are full pay). But for JFK to make these conclusions, they NEED the economic data on the transferring students. Or, if a school like USC is in the mix, what about football transfers? :slight_smile:

Disappointingly poor research, IMO. The good news for them, however, is that the masses won’t see or care about the nuances.

@bluebayou, are you thinking that community college transfers have higher family income than students who enroll at elites as freshmen? That seems implausible.

It doesn’t matter what is plausible or implausible, fang. Without the hard data, the rest is just speculation. Just bcos it fits a popular narrative, doesn’t mean its correct. For example, why would anyone think that transfers into NYU and other elite schools with poor finaid for transfers, would not be well heeled?

This entire report is heavily weighted by transfers from California’s fine community college system to California state universities and colleges. If you want to know the demographics of the ~11K students who transferred from community college to a Most Competitive school, well, about half of those students transferred to Berkeley or UCLA.

At Berkeley, the transfer cohort has a higher percentage of Latino/Chicano students, a higher percentage of black students, a considerably lower percentage of Asian-Americans, and a considerably higher percentage of internationals. This suggests that money plays a big part in the choice of a student to do their first two years at community college and then transfer to a California public.

@“Cardinal Fang” which report are you referring to, the one in the OP or what ucbalumnus posted? can give some UC numbers on transfers versus frosh (entry level) versus various characteristics (e.g. parent education, ethnicity). Unfortunately, the most direct characteristics for this question (entry level and Pell grant) are not available together in the same tab.

Students with non-college-educated parents are more likely to be Pell grant students and transfers compared to students with college educated parents.

Only if you’re speculating about the income and demographics of the students.

The OP says community college student transfers do well when they are admitted to elites, period.

I infer that CC students either didn’t apply to elites as HS seniors, or didn’t have the grades/test scores to get in, or couldn’t afford anything other than CC, or their parents were poor planners without good financial safeties, or their parents simply thought they’d do better at a local CC for some reason, perhaps to live at home or deal with an illness. Any/all of those.

I agree, that’s remarkable.

The one in the OP, the Jack Kent Cooke report. About half of the students nationwide who transfer from community college to Most Selective colleges transfer to Berkeley or UCLA.

Is that because those schools are bigger than other “most selective” colleges, and the TAG program?

UCB and UCLA are large, and also much more transfer-friendly than other highly selective universities (including many public ones). UCs generally target having a third of bachelor’s degree graduates starting college at community college and entering the UC by transfer. This is much higher than at other highly selective universities.

But note that UCB and UCLA do not do TAG:

It’s because California has a good community college program and encourages transfers from community college to state schools. It’s easy for a community college student to find out what classes transfer, community colleges have frequent transfer events, students can make certain contracts that guarantee that they will be accepted as transfer students if they complete certain classes with certain grades, and four-year colleges save places for transfers. Other states do not do these things.

Not quite; the OP actually says that cc students do better, i.e, “higher grad. rates”. (see the title of the thread.) It is that conclusion that I raise an issue with.

"New analysis from Jack Kent Cooke Foundation highlights community college students as promising admissions pool for selective four-year institutions.

A new report, “Persistence: The Success of Students Who Transfer from Community Colleges to Selective Four-Year Institutions,” released today by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, shows that community college students who transfer to selective four-year institutions perform as well as—or better than—their peers who enrolled directly from high school.

The graduation rates of community college transfer students match or exceed those of students who start at four-year institutions as freshmen. Community college students graduate at higher rates than students who transfer from other four-year institutions." …