Transfer & Mobility: A National View of Student Movement in Postsecondary Institutions

Posted by National Student Clearinghouse Research Center on July 20, 2015

NSC Report Consider Transfer and Mobility

A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center examines postsecondary transfer and mobility patterns. The report finds that of the 3.6 million students who first enrolled in the fall of 2008, over 37 percent of them transferred at least once in the ensuing six years. Of those who transferred, nearly half (45 percent) transferred multiple times. The report is a useful look at enrollment patterns and offers evidence of what NCAN members have known for some time: a large swath of students aren’t staying in one place.

Among the other findings in the report were that nearly 20% of students who started in two-year public institutions and nearly 25% of those from four-year public institutions occurred over state lines. The students who were most likely to transfer were those who had both full-time and part-time enrollments (53.7% of these students transferred).

The report also considers the role of community colleges. Nearly 25% of students who started at a community college transferred to a four-year institution within six years, but they did so mostly without earning an associate’s degree or certificate first. Additionally, 25% of students who transferred from a four-year institution to a community college did so just for the summer and then returned to their four-year institutions in the fall. The NSC previously reported that this strategy was “correlated [with] higher degree completion rates at the starting four-year institution.”

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