Deciding to transfer: a study of college to university choice
Ontario Policy Research Framework – OISE/UTMay 16, 2013Dan Lang, Professor EmeritusUniversityofToronto
Population: studentsentering college for the first timeQuestion:Why, when and how plans were formed and decisions made about transferring to a baccalaureateprogram?Objective:Todetermine at what point transfer as a coincidental behaviour became a planned behaviour and for what reasons
ThePurpose of theStudy
Five Ontario colleges of different types participated in the study.Starting from the Institutional Taxonomy developed by Floyd,Skolnikand Walker:Concurrent campusUniversityCentreTraditional collegeCollege in a location with no nearby university, but with articulation elsewhereCollege with a nearby university but with no articulation
Demographics of colleges
Generalarts and science programs with significant enrolmentExit points after one, two and three yearsTwocollegesoffered internal transfer to baccalaureate degrees
Oneof the questions on the collegesurveys of entering students asked whether students were interested in transfer.All Studentswho said yes were invited to information sessions. Sessions were held ateachCollege.At the end of information sessions students wereinvited to participate in the study.675Students participated in the studyThe students were split into 2 groups those who were still interested in transfer (288) and those who were no longer interested in transfer (387). Both groups completed identical surveys-Studentswho were still interested in transfer werealso invitedto participateincontinuation of the study: interviews, access to academic records, and “tracking” beginning in 2008-2009.
224 students consented to participate55 students failed to re-register, had their registration withdrawn, transferred, graduated or withdrew from thestudyOf the remaining 169, 123 were interviewed and tracked into 2ndand in some cases 3rdyear
Highlights of Findings
For the participants in this study –Transfer means “moving” fromone institution to anotherregardless of typeIt doesNOTmean“moving” from a diploma to a degree
At three different points in the interview students were asked about the value, quality and reputation of five types of post-secondaryarrangements:CollegeUniversityPolytechnic instituteUniversitycollege (for example, Durham College/UOIT)Instituteof Technology and Advanced Learning (for example HumberCollege)Universitypartnership centre (for example, Georgian College)
Fewer that four%ofall respondents recognized the name ITAL, eventhoseat colleges that were ITALs.
Afterthe final interview– participantswere classifiedasweak, average orstrong(based on final grades in Grade 12 and college GPA)One of the questionsasked during the semi-structuredinterviewwas:In terms of academic difficulty - was college harder or easier than whatexpected?A trend emerged:weak at entrycollege harderbecameless interested in transferstrong at entrycollegeeasierstayedinterested in transferaverage studentswhatthey expected oreasier stayed interestedin transfer
College as a pathway to University
Finding:Attending college as a “second chance” to qualify for University is not a viable option for below average students
Two participating colleges had large numbers of students whose:First language was not EnglishHad not passed TOEFAL exams or had not studied in an English-speaking college or university long enough to be exempt from the university level English language requirementsNot interested in transferper se
The language dilemma
Finding: These students wereinterestedsolely in spending enough timein anEnglish speaking college to be exempt from university foreign level language admission requirements.Nointerest in credit transfer. Indifferent to college program.
Does the type of college affect transfer?
The “Concurrentcampus” college20% higher rate of transfer than the average rate for all five participating colleges:college also had six university partners offering courses on campusOver 90% of students who transferred from this college transferred to the university nearest to the college, andin twoprograms.
Finding: With one possible exception – type of college did NOT affect transfer
In year prior to commencement of study provincial government introduced a program of general financial assistance for re-training of students who had lost jobs:At 3 colleges – these students made up significant subset of the participantsAll had above average GPA’sInterest in transfer remained strongExemplified transfer as a coincidentalbehaviour; students had not expected to lose jobs and had no prior interest in college or transfer.Interest motivated by the government programChoice of program motivated by counseling required prior to application for admission to the government program
Subset of “second career” participants
Literature and practice presumes apullvs.pushpattern: students will turn to sources designed to draw or “pull” them to transfer to universityChoice options in survey and in interviews reflected this, for example guidance counselors, central provincial website.College Web- site not included in choice, but was single most utilized source
Where do students turnto fortransfer information?
Finding: Whileone should becautiousabout over-generalization, it may be that as many students are “pushed” towards transfer as are “pulled” toward it .Counseling plays a larger role thanrecruitment
Atleastsixdifferentactual “scenarios”.1. Entercollege andtransfer to university as soon as possible, regardless of number of credits transferred or of not earning a college credential.2. Entercollege, graduate with diploma,and qualify foradmission touniversityto a program unrelated to their college credential. For these students the primary objective was admission. The number of credits transferred was unimportant or irrelevant.3. Entercollege, graduate with a diploma, andqualify for admission to university in a program related to their college credential. For these students the primary objective was admission. The transferability of credits was important but not important enough to affect their university decision.4 Entercollege, graduate with a diploma, and qualify for admission to university in a program related to their college credential. For these students theadmissionand transferability of credits were dual and approximately equal objectives.Transferability of credits was important enough to affect their university decision.5. Entera two-year college program,elect an optional third year, graduate with no immediate plans to transfer.6 Entercollege,transfer internallyto another college diploma program, graduate with no immediate plans to transfer.
Pathways to Transfer