Transfer Students Less Engaged in Campus Activities, Survey Finds


The Chronicle article below reports on the results of a new study, by the National Survey of Student Engagement, known as Nessie, which found that transfer students do not engage in “higher impact” activities such as internships, study abroad or project work with faculty as do “native” students who attend the same school freshmen through senior year. The study also distinguished between two groups: “horizontal” transfer students, who made transfers between four-year colleges; and “vertifical” transfer students who transferred from community colleges to four year institutions. Here’s a sampling of the statistics:

* 62% of native seniors said they participated in internships versus only 49% of horizontal-transfer students and 43% of vertical-transfer students.
* The biggest gap was in study abroad: only 7% of vertical students compared with 15% of the horizontal group; 20% of the native students studied abroad.

The report also stressed the importance of a culminating senior experience that “integrates and synthesize learning within the academic major, provides opportunities to reflect on the overall college experience and may facilitate the transition to life after college.” Experts say we need to place the same emphasis on transfer students that we do on incoming freshmen and to sustain that engagement through all four years of college.

If students today don’t get experience outside of school from a part-time job, one or more internships and volunteer work, they often lack the valuable “soft skills” that success outside of school requires. In addition to learning about how to do work, follow-up on projects and see things through to completion, students also get exposed to what they do and don’t like which can be valuable for narrowing down career choices. Many students today will need to start in an area that is not their dream job, but if they work with that starting point and develop their skills as well as knowledge, they will likely be moving upwards and onwards to more rewarding work with better pay.

Chronicle of Higher Education
Transfer Students Less Engaged in Campus Activities, Survey Finds
By Ben Terris
November 8, 2009

Not all transfer experiences are created equal.

So says the latest National Survey of Student Engagement, which for the first time compared data from students who had made “vertical” transfers, from community colleges to four-year institutions, and students who had made “horizontal” transfers, between four-year colleges.

“It’s important that we look at these two groups as distinct populations,” says Alexander C. McCormick, director of the survey. “After all, they change institutions for very different reasons and should therefore have different experiences.”

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