5 institutional factors students consider when transferring

August 20, 2018
  • Admissions and Recruitment
  • Communications Plan
  • Community Colleges
  • Pathways
  • Transfer and Articulation
Illustrated female figure looking confused with several red question marks floating above her head. by W. Dean Schleicher, Articulation & Transfer Specialist, Montgomery College

Montgomery College, the largest community college in Maryland, transfers nearly 5,000 students to approximately 375 four-year schools every year. In my role as Articulation and Transfer Specialist at MC, I talk to and work with students who are planning to transfer. 

Postsecondary institutions need to be aware of what is important to transfer students so they can highlight their school’s strengths when developing recruitment and marketing materials for transfer students.

Students ponder these five institutional factors when deciding on their transfer destination:

1. Type of Institution – There are many of postsecondary institutions, which could be daunting for students unsure about where they want to transfer. Public or private? Non-profit or for-profit? In-state or out-of-state? Liberal arts school? HBCU? Hispanic-Serving Institution? Women’s college? Online? Honors? The various types of postsecondary institutions offer students a range of choices.

2. Cost
– According to College Board, for the 2017-2018 school year, the average price of tuition and fees for in-state students at public, four-year schools was $9,970. Students paying out-of-state tuition at public, four-year colleges paid an average of $25,620. For private, four-year schools, average tuition was $34,740. Public, in-state schools can offer substantial savings compared with out-of-state and private institutions.

Financially-savvy students project the costs of earning a bachelor’s degree at different schools and figure out how they will pay for them. Sometimes, a transfer scholarship can influence a student’s decision. Students should also consider whether they will receive financial aid and if they will have to take out loans. 

3. Size of Institution – Large schools can be overwhelming; class sizes in the hundreds may come as a shock to students transferring from community colleges. Smaller schools can provide learning environments similar to what students experience at their community college, thereby reducing possible transfer shock and promoting academic success. Large schools can publicize opportunities for undergraduates to participate in research, and small schools can tout their student-faculty ratios and access to professors.

It is necessary for students to tour the campuses of the schools they are interested in; transferring to a school without visiting beforehand may lead to unwanted surprises.

4. Location – Schools located in large cities can be a significant draw for some students, while other students may prefer suburban campuses. Will a student commute to their transfer school or relocate? Some students are eager to attend a school far from home, and others are content staying local. Weather is another component; does a student dream of sunny weather year-round, or do they favor the four seasons?

5. Campus Life – Some students cannot wait to transfer and experience a new campus life. Some students care about tailgating on Saturdays before the football game; others could not care less about college sports. The presence of Greek life is important to certain students. Likewise, does the institution offer on-campus housing for transfers? If not, will their housing offices help them find off-campus housing? Does the institution support transfer students with any transfer-related programs?

Stay tuned for part two of this article, which will be published next month, and will cover academic factors that students consider when transferring.


AACRAO's bi-weekly professional development e-newsletter is open to members and non-members alike.