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Transfer Student Involvement

uterThe most recent National Survey of Student Engagement has found that transfer students tend to be less involved than “native” students in colleges and universities across the nation. However, “horizontal transfers” – people coming from a different four-year Baccalaureate program – tend to be more involved in “high impact” activities such as study abroad, internships, research, and capstone courses than “vertical transfers” – people coming from a community college or two-year program.

While 62% of native seniors said they participated in internships, only 49% of horizontal-transfer students and 43% of vertical-transfer students had. A measly 7% of vertical transfers had studied abroad compared to 15% of horizontal transfers and 20% of native students. This isn’t surprising, though, since horizontal transfers were probably planning on doing these “high impact” activities at their other school.

What is surprising is that they report being less content than other transfers. Mr. McCormick, the director of the study, believes it has something to do with the reason for their transfer between institutions.

“I think a large number of horizontal transfers are changing institutions because they were not able to succeed in making good relationships at their first college. Some of these obstacles don’t go away with a change of scenery.”

The study emphasized the importance of first-year enrichment engagement as a means to improve retention rates. McCormick says, “From the beginning [this study] has been all about diagnosis and improvement, not data for the sake of data.” Penn State, University Park actually has one of the highest retention rates among large universities, so we’re doing something right.  Maybe it has to do with our 2+2 program. Students can choose their own campus, and, when the time comes, if they want to come to University Park. If a student isn’t quite ready to leave the nest or for a 40,000+ student population, they can choose a Commonwealth Campus that is close to their hometown – whatever suits their needs.

What do you think? Is Penn State a cut above – are first-year students and transfers more involved here than elsewhere?

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About the Author

Caitlin Silver

Caitlin is from a small Pennsylvania town called Unionville, which is by West Chester, which is by Philadelphia. She is a sophomore in the Smeal College of Business and will probably major in accounting. Caitlin loves "How I Met Your Mother" and dougnuts.

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