Exploring reverse transfer: A study of why some students transfer to a community college
Buchwitz, Stefani Gerson
University of Kansas
Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
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This study explores the reasons why a group of students reverse transfer from a four-year college or university to a two-year community college. This study utilizes one two-year community college as the sample institution to discover more about a sample of the reverse transfer student population. The overarching theoretical framework includes the push and pull factor influenced by student demographics, environmental experiences, student departure decisions, and desired student outcomes. The study seeks to uncover characteristic patterns of why some students reverse transfer through four research questions: (1) What is the educational background of these students who reverse transferred? (2) What are the educational goals of these students who reverse transfer? (3) Why did these students reverse transfer from a four-year college or university to a two-year community college? (4) How do these students feel about their decision to reverse transfer? The four research questions and the 15 student participants who participated in qualitative, semi-structured interviews at the sample institution illustrate that these reverse transfer students have varied educational backgrounds, educational goals, and reasons for the reverse transfer. Additionally, the study reveals that the reverse transfer pattern is complex and often overlaps with other transfer terms, specifically the transfer swirl. The study questions the usefulness of the term “reverse.” While the 15 students experienced pushes from the four-year institutions leading to their student departure, pulls from the two-year community college led to a decisive student choice to reverse transfer. Ultimately, the decision to reverse transfer was a positive experience and viewed as a form of academic advancement. This interview study enhances future research by highlighting a sample of the reverse transfer student population and displaying why these students decided to reverse transfer. The new information and alignment with current research has implications for graduation rates and practices and policies at the institutional, state, and national levels.
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