|Institution:||The Florida State University|
|Keywords:||Education policy; Higher education|
|Full text PDF:||http://pqdtopen.proquest.com/#viewpdf?dispub=3724393|
America's postsecondary education system currently supports nearly 11 million people, but only 33-37% of these students will actually graduate with a Baccalaureate degree (Kuh, Kinzie, Schuh, Whitt & Associates, 2005; OECD, 2009). Researchers have been examining various aspects of America's 'persistence puzzle' for the past 30 years. The majority of these studies have focused on the academic and social environs of first-year, native students enrolled in large university programs (Braxton, Sullivan, & Johnson, 1997), where America's transfer student populations have been restricted or excluded (Townsend & Wilson, 2009). These restrictions represent a rather significant oversight in the current literature, given that approximately 52% of America's first-year postsecondary students are enrolled in community college programs (Cejda, 1997; Keener, 1994) and that nearly 40% of today's graduates will transfer between several institutions before obtaining a baccalaureate degree (NCES, 2005). Furthermore, the majority of these studies have relied on quantitative methods/data, which address persistence as an outcomes, rather than a series of events/experiences that contribute to a student's decision to withdraw (Tinto, 1993). As a result, we know very little about the psychological and environmental challenges students face as they transition between institutions (Laanan, 2004). Even those studies that have referred to the 'transfer shock' students experience during their transition have failed to explore the methods, attributes, stresses (both psychological, social & cultural), or the strategies students employ to relieve these stresses (Holahan, Green, & Kelley, 1983; Laanan, 2001). This study examined the adjustment process of vertical transfer students who recently transferred to a four-year, Research I, Baccalaureate university in the southeast United States. It applied Adelman's (2006) definition of a vertical transfer student as: someone who began his or her postsecondary education in a community college, earned a at least 10 college credits and then transferred to a Baccalaureate university. This definition was then applied to a specific group of vertical transfer students who recently transferred from a single, local community college, less than three miles from the university, as these students represent approximately 43.3% of the total incoming transfer student population at the Baccalaureate institution (OIR, 2012b). The primary goals of this study were to define the transfer student experience, assist future transfer students with their transitions, and assess the quality/effectiveness of current programs so that staff, faculty and administrators could align and/or improve cooperative persistence programs that exist between these two institutions. After all, the rigors these students face during their adjustment to life as university students will have a significant impact on their persistence and/or success (Astin, 1984, Tinto, 1993, Townsend & Wilson, 2009).