John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education

Transfer Discrimination: Part 3

John N. Gardner
President

I shall continue in this vein of delineating the various ways I have noted that baccalaureate receiving transfer institutions treat transfer students differently than “native” students.

7. Eligibility for participation in student organizations: it has long been known that another predictor for retention is joining behaviors when directed towards institutionally sponsored and licensed student organizations, clubs, activities. There again we are discovering instances of policies which favor native, full-time students, who start early in the undergraduate period with these organizations. The realm of participation in intercollegiate athletics is another type of student experience which is highly skewed to favor the non- transfer student.

8. Opportunity for on-campus employment: there has long existed good research to substantiate the finding that both where and how much a student works during the undergraduate years is a predictor for graduation. Of particular note is the finding that college students, who work on campus, controlling for the same amount of hours worked when compared to students who work off campus, are more likely to graduate. Because the availability of on-campus employment, particularly that which may not be tied to eligibility for College Work Study funding, is limited, naturally, native students have a better shot at initially obtaining and retaining these positions, thus making it more difficult for transfer students to secure these plum assignments.

In summary, the existing organizational structures, policies, traditions, and culture are highly biased in favor of non-transfer, “native” students.

I know this in only a partial list. I would be interested in hearing from my readers of other examples they have observed in their own or other higher education settings.

This series of three blogs does not address “reverse transfer” in community colleges – which also were not designed  for their own transfer students. “Reverse transfer” now has an entirely new meaning with respect to awarding retroactive associate degrees to students who transferred “out” before completing that degree. But I will leave this topic to another posting perhaps.

I wrote these three blogs because I am concerned with the bias against transfer students even though the experience is now normative. As a country we cannot attain our aspirational goals for increasing baccalaureate completion rates unless we provide more equitable treatment to transfer students.

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