Create a free Diverse: Issues In Higher Education account to continue reading

Report: Communication Key to Improving Transfer Rate

A new report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) indicates that while 8,836 entering students at 40 community colleges around the country indicate that they intend to transfer to a four-year institution, the number that actually do is remarkably low.

"Helping Community College Students Climb the Transfer Ladder" is based on the 2022 Survey of Entering Student Engagement (SENSE).  

Dr. Linda L. Garcia, executive director of CCCSE, said conversations about transfer must begin at the onset of a student’s time at a community college. Waiting until a student is close to completing an associate degree to discuss what needs to be done to successfully transfer to a four-year institution is ineffective.

The report noted that 35% of respondents said they knew the four-year institution to which they wanted to transfer and what they would study, and 93% of those students had already selected a program, major or pathway of study at their community college. Many of those students had to find information about how to successfully prepare for transferring through their own efforts, rather than have that presented to them upon enrollment at the community college.

“It’s a hard process navigate,” said Garcia. “Community colleges have transfer advising and articulation agreements, but these agreements evolve and change. That’s why it’s important to have communication with the student right at the beginning.”Dr. Linda GarciaDr. Linda Garcia

One student mentioned using the website Transferology after learning about it from an advisor.

City University of New York (CUNY) has a website dedicated to transfer information ( to which the community colleges within the CUNY system regularly refer students. That site notes new features updated in June 2023 mapping out credits to CUNY major requirements. Lehman College, a four-year CUNY school, also has a Virtual Transfer Center that community college students can go to for information.

Garcia said it’s also crucial to have contact with the four-year institution (when known) so the community college student is on the correct pathway that will facilitate transfer.

Sixty-six percent of students who said they knew the four-year institution to which they wanted to transfer found useful information on their college’s website, but 38% said they were not aware of this information. 29% of respondents were relying on guidance about transfer from friends, family or other students.

“It’s really about intentionality,” said Garcia. “We can’t assume the student knows how to navigate through the pathways. We have to provide that GPS to help students get from the start line to the finish line.”

Dr. Larry Hlavenka Jr., executive director of public relations, community and cultural affairs at Bergen Community College (BCC) in New Jersey, said not all students are aiming to transfer to a four-year institution, but for those who do, there is a plethora of information from the onset. Information is provided at orientation.

“If they are determined to transfer to Rutgers, we can say to them, ‘Here are the agreements that we have available with Rutgers. Here is exactly what you need to do in order to put yourself on that path for a Rutgers education,’” said Hlavenka. “The Lampitt Law in the state of New Jersey guarantees that credits taken at community colleges will transfer to the state’s four-year institutions.”

Several of New Jersey’s public four-year institutions have a presence on the BCC campus and are available to advise students.

“That office is in our One Stop [Center] right next to where they’re going to register for classes, pay their bill and obtain advising and counseling,” said Hlavenka. “Our four-year partners are literally in that environment. It’s a visible office. It is intentional.”

The report notes that community college students between the ages of 18–24 state a greater intention to transfer than adult learners. There is some divergence by race/ethnicity, but all groups indicated a desire to transfer at 74% or higher. The data shows having a plan increases the likelihood of successful transfer. 

One suggestion is for student support services to work closely with instructors, such as including information about student support along with a course syllabus. Another possibility is for faculty to invite advisors to their courses, said Garcia. It’s about creating space for intentional conversations and making sure the information is always available.

This report concludes with a series of questions for presidents and senior leaders, for advisors and counselors, for faculty and for trustees to help them identify if they are doing the utmost for community college students.

“This report is about the entering student experience,” said Garcia. “How can we make sure students are fully aware of transfer information at the very beginning. We want to make sure students are on the correct path?”

CCCSE plans a future study on students who have completed a portion of their community college education.


The trusted source for all job seekers
We have an extensive variety of listings for both academic and non-academic positions at postsecondary institutions.
Read More
The trusted source for all job seekers