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Still I Aspire: Graduate Degree Aspirations for Community College Transfer Students of Color


Enrollment of vertical transfer students across four-year colleges and universities has been increasing over the past decade (Shapiro et al., 2018). From 2012 to 2017, data from the Beginning Postsecondary Students (BPS) survey showed that White students represented the largest group of transfers to four-year colleges and universities. Racial and ethnic minoritized populations continue to face challenges in successfully transferring to a four-year from a two-year institution due to systemic barriers (Crisp, Potter, Robertson, & Carales, 2020); and students of color who do successfully transfer from a two-year into a four-year face additional barriers that stem from institutional racism and lack of a transfer receptive culture (Jain, Herrera, Bernal, & Sol�rzano, 2011; Umbach, Tuchmayer, Clayton, & Smith, 2018; Wawrzyski & Sedlacek, 2003). This study aimed to identify factors that shape and sustain the graduate degree aspirations of community college transfer students of color. Specifically, this study examined graduate degree aspirations across institutional characteristics and measures used to determine a campus climate experience to examine how graduate degree aspirations varied for transfers of color enrolled across colleges and universities within the U.S. Key findings include students’ experience with a hostile campus climate contribute odds toward graduate education and whether students finance their education through personal income, loans, or grants—overall these measures appeared to contribute odds toward graduate aspirations than having no aspiration to obtain a graduate degree. Frameworks of Critical Race Theory and a Transfer Receptive Culture (Jain et al., 2011) offer critical discussions for implications, research, policy, and practice.

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