The Community College: Three Papers on the Transfer to and Graduation from Four Year Institutions
The first paper of three uses the nationally representative Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 to detail the relationship between student ability, enrollment in math or English remediation, and the probability of student transfer to a four-year institution. Using fixed effects logistic regressions, this paper finds three important findings: first, students are most likely placed into remediation due to their domain-specific ability (math, reading) but certain demographics also predict placement into remediation, such as student race, independent of ability and high school quality; second, students placed into English remediation are less likely to transfer to a four-year, especially if they are under-placed into these courses; third, summer enrollment has both a powerful positive association with vertical transfer and is particularly strong for students enrolled in remediation and with subject deficits.
The second paper of three synthesizes six national databases over the span of twenty years to test the impacts of state articulation policies as they are established by examining the change in vertical transfer rates before and after a policy is enacted. After a series of careful robustness and falsification tests, there are several lessons from this analysis. First, cross-sectional analyses that utilized by these national databases may vary considerably from one database to another, although in the aggregate they support a positive association between state policy and vertical transfer. Second, longitudinal data suggests that the implementation of any articulation policy is associated with increases in student transfer rates within state, especially if analysis provides a three year grace period for the policy to take effect. Third, the strongest policy appears to be associate degree transfer agreements between two-year institutions and four-year institutions, as other policy components do not have a particularly strong impact on student transfer rates.
The third paper of three examines students after they transfer to a four-year institution, paying special attention to institutional selectivity, to determine both the rate of graduation and the time-to-graduate relative to four-year natives. Results suggest that typical metrics used in the literature, such as BA attainment rates, generally show a similar rate of graduation between transfer students and native four-year students, but there are marginally significant differences depending on institutional selectivity. Further, there is a very large gap between groups in time-to-graduate metrics such that transfer students may take one to two years longer on average to graduate from a four-year.