The consequences of credit lost

July 1, 2014
  • AACRAO Connect
  • Transfer and Articulation

Students are much less likely to earn a four-year degree if they first enroll at a community college, according to a study by David B. Monaghan, doctoral candidate, and Paul Attewell, professor of education, at Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and reported by Paul Fain at Inside Higer Ed.

The primary reason, according to Monaghan and Attewell? Credit lost during the transfer process. 

Their study found that 14 percent of community college students who transferred to four-year institutions had to start almost from scratch because their receiving institutions accepted 10 percent or less of their community college credits.  In contrast, 58 percent of the students surveyed were able to transfer at least 90 percent of their community college credits.  The students from this latter group are two-and-a-half times as likely to graduate from a four-year institution as students who lost half or more of their credits upon transfer. 

Although many students transfer and successfully attain a bachelor’s degree (60 percent, according to National Student Clearinghouse Research Center), the remainder do not.   Whether the reason is loss of credits or other factors, inefficiencies in the transfer process can have serious consequences for students. 

Sensible change at the state level

The research by Monaghan and Attewell serves as an example of why enrollment and advising professionals must understand the transfer process and the roadblocks to transfer student success.  With the right guidance and transfer-friendly policies, students have a much greater chance of successfully obtaining their four-year degree. 

Professionals and scholars interested in studying and facilitating effective transfer would benefit from attending AACRAO’s upcoming Transfer and Technology Conference, where experts on transfer will gather to discuss key transfer concepts and research.  One of this year’s highlights is Dr. Jan Ignash, State University System of Florida Board of Governors, who will discuss “Effecting Sensible Change in Transfer and Articulation at the State-Level.” 

In an era of rapidly rising higher education costs, today’s students expect to succeed in transferring and graduating—and to do so without accumulating excess hours and incurring large amounts of debt.  In an era of visual analytics and big data, governors and policy makers expect accountability and quick change when higher education falls short of the mark.   For both the sending and receiving institutions, successful student transfer is a key component of success. 

Join us

AACRAO’s Transfer/Technology Conference is the leading venue for charting the course towards student success in higher education. The Conference will take place next week--July 6, 7 and 8--at the Marriot Harbor Beach in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  It's not too late to register--click here for more information!


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