The Characteristics and Experiences of Students Who Transfer to Four-year Institutions

What demographic characteristics and student achievements are associated with a higher transfer rate?
June, 2017

This report explores the characteristics of students who enrolled in community or technical colleges (CTCs) and subsequently transferred to four-year institutions. Students enrolled in any of Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges were included in the cohort if they were a regular resident student in the fall of 2006, had not earned a bachelor’s degree before their first enrollment in a community or technical college, among other criteria.

The study concluded that those who registered their intent to transfer to a four-year institution were younger when they first enrolled, earned more credits during their first year, and had higher GPAs were more likely to transfer to a 4-year institution than those who were older, earned fewer credits their first year, or who had lower GPAs. The analysis showed that CTC students were most likely to transfer if they had declared an intent to transfer, were younger than 20 when they first enrolled, and earned at least 39 credits during their first year.

It is notable that male students were generally more likely to transfer than female students. Further, at younger ages, students who did not take any developmental courses were more likely to transfer than those who did. At older ages, those who took and passed a developmental math course were more likely to transfer than those who did not take a development math course. Further analysis in the full report highlights other risk factors, and potential interaction effects between study variables.