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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Ties that Support : : An Egocentric Network Analysis of Underrepresented Transfer Students

  • Author(s): Grommo, April L.
  • et al.

The lack of college graduates, who possess a four-year degree, will soon impact the United States in a lack of knowledge workers needed to compete in the global economy. If current trends continue, California alone will be short one million college graduates by 2025. Despite college efforts to increase graduation rates only about half of students will complete a degree or certificate within six years. These numbers decline for underrepresented students. Many of these students start their college experience at a community college. Thus assisting students in the enrollment at a community college, the transfer process, and transition from a community college to a four -year university, are critical to increasing overall baccalaureate attainment rates. Transfer students face many of the same academic and social adjustment issues as first-time freshman without many of the same support programs. Students do not go through the transfer experience by themselves, therefore an emphasis of this study was on students' interactions with those inside and outside institutions of higher education. A student's social network and access to social capital, both on and off-campus plays a role in his or her ability to achieve success in the college environment. Underserved students often lack the social capital to access the required networks or level of knowledge needed to properly adjust to university life. This egocentric network analysis explored underrepresented transfer studenys' experiences with their on-campus and off-campus social networks while transferring from a community college and post-transfer adjustment at a four-year institution. The results of this study provided insight on who students rely upon for support and information at the community college and university level. Although study participants did not have highly closed networks, their were robust and allowed participants to utilize ties when needed. As students moved through their college careers their on-campus network shift from family to peers, with academic advisers being utilized through out their college career. Off- campus networks were consistent with parents and spouses providing the most personal support and encouragement no matter the age of the student

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