U.S. News & World Report recently published an article by Jordan Friedman entitled, “10 Colleges that attract the Most New Transfer Students. According to Friedman, “More than a third of the 3.6 million students who entered college for the first time in fall 2008 ended up transferring to another institution at least once in the next six years, according to a 2015 report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Almost half of those students transferred more than once.”
Friedman added, “Data submitted to U.S. News by more than 1,170 schools show that colleges and universities had an average of 479 transfer students enroll in fall 2014. In that semester, a total of more than 563,000 students transferred to new schools.”
Each of the 10 schools in the U.S. News Short List had more than 3,700 new transfer students enrolled in the fall of 2014. And it’s worth noting that all 10 of the institutions are located in California, Texas, and Florida.
Two years ago, I interviewed Devon Haynie, who wrote the article that year’s short list and is now a news editor at U.S. News. My questions and her answers about her publication’s annual rankings are below – and they are still as relevant today as they were back then.Greg Jarboe: The U.S. News Short List is separate from your overall rankings. It is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Can you share the backstory for deciding to write about the 10 Colleges with the Most New Transfer Students?Devon Haynie: It’s a list that typically draws a lot of reader interest for us. I’m not sure why that is. It could be because students are interested in applying to schools that are most likely to accept their applications to transfer.Greg Jarboe: In 2014, the organizers of Affordable College conducted a survey of 1,027 college students. We asked them, “What is your primary reason for considering transfer to another institution?” And 43 percent of the respondents said they were seeking “to continue my education”, 18 percent said they were seeking “reduced costs/expenses”, 15 percent said they were seeking “more/better program choices”, 11 percent said they were seeking “a better fit”, 9 percent said they were seeing “an institution with a better reputation”, and 4 percent gave other reasons. Do you see students who transfer from a 2-year institution to a 4-year institution as the new "normal"?Devon Haynie: Absolutely. About 40 percent of all of America's undergraduate students are enrolled at community colleges, and a large majority – about 80 percent – say their ultimate goal is to earn at least a bachelor's degree. That means a lot of students will be inquiring about how to transfer to a four-year school.Greg Jarboe: Our survey also asked college students, “Which of the following will be the most important factor when selecting another institution?” And 27 percent of the respondents said “transfer of most credits toward degree”, 23 percent said “reduced costs/expenses”, 20 percent said “more/better program choices”, 15 percent said “availability of financial aid”, 12 percent said “institution with a better reputation”, and 3 percent cited other factors. Do you see credit transfer as a hidden issue that many colleges and universities have yet to address?
Devon Haynie: This is definitely an issue, particularly for community college students trying to transfer to four-year institutions. More than 10 percent of community college students lose nearly all of their course credits and must essentially start over after transferring, according to research from the City University of New York. That’s a loss of a lot of time and money for students. And it’s also not great for their graduation prospects. Studies have shown that students who were able to keep all or almost all of their credits were 2.5 times more likely to earn a bachelor's degree than those with less than half of their credits transferred.
Greg Jarboe: Finally, if readers of The Advocate for Affordable College blog don't see their school in the top 10, can they access the U.S. News College Compass to find schools with high student transfer rates, complete rankings and other relevant data?Devon Haynie: Yes. Students, parents and others who want to know more can access U.S. News College Compass to find schools with high student transfer rates and to explore other interesting data points.
(Greg Jarboe is the editor of The Advocate of Affordable College blog and the former editor of the Knowledge Transfer blog. He’s also the president and co-founder of SEO-PR, an instructor at the Rutgers Business School, the content marketing faculty chair at Market Motive, as well as the author of YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day.)