Reverse transfers yield positive outcomes for struggling students

Dive Brief:

  • A new report from the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment suggests struggling students who transfer from four-year to two-year institutions have better academic outcomes than those who persist in four-year schools.

  • Job market prospects reflects no negative impact on students who reverse transfer and who eventually earn degrees, and experts say articulation agreements between community colleges, four-year schools must allow for ease of credit acceptance.

  • Despite no negative reflections in the labor market, however, students who transfer from one institution to the next are not counted in either school's graduation totals, which negatively impacts institutional performance rankings.

Dive Insight:

While many four-year colleges pursue articulation agreements with community colleges for one-way transfer, the new data on reverse transfers sheds light on the need for core curricula to be more uniform between the two institutional types. Because affordability, geography and performance can be factors in a reverse transfer, both types of institutions would benefit from creating scholarships or financial incentive to reward persistence between connected institutions.

Reverse transfers are not as common as two-year-to-four-year transfers, but if data continues to demonstrate a national trend, public higher education governing boards with ambitions for greater community college access and funding could use the trend to support development for programs similar to those like Tennessee’s Promise and North Carolina’s GAP Program, which all but mandate community college attendance for students who fall below certain academic thresholds out of high school.


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Filed Under: Higher Ed
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