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A new report from The Chronicle of Higher Education reveals a stark reality for US Higher Education Institutions. According to figures published by the Community College Research Centre, transfer rates are falling. Only a third of degree-seeking community college students are transferring to a four-year college. This report follows the release of Data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center that shows Community College enrolment rates have also plummeted since 2020.

Greater Widening Participation Effort Needed

The report identifies an urgent need to support students throughout their time at Community Colleges. The issue is compounded by indications of inequality in the falling transfer rates. White or higher income students were twice as likely to transfer to a four-year college than their black or lower income peers. This highlights the need for greater widening participation efforts and an increased focus on supporting underrepresented groups.

For the greatest impact on student success, the increased effort and focus needs to come from both sides of the transfer process. The Chronicle report indicates that many students experience ‘transfer shock’ in the move from two-year colleges to four-year. Students often struggle to adapt to the increased workload and cost of a four-year college degree. This is evident by falling student retention rates in the US, particularly among students from underrepresented groups.

The Chronicle report indicates that many students experience ‘transfer shock’ in the move from two-year colleges to four-year.

Students in community college

How can Educational Institutions help the issue?

The most important element here is support. In Community Colleges, systems should be in place to identify early, students who may struggle to transfer to a four-year college. Early alerts to staff that identify at-risk cohorts are crucial for early intervention. These processes ensure students get the support they need and complete their transfer successfully. To ensure student success past the transfer process, the enrolling institution needs appropriate support in place too. Predictive analytics, attendance and engagement monitoring, and early alert can ensure timely identification and intervention for at-risk students. Providing support early and to those who need it most will boost retention rates and student success outcomes.

Don’t wait to try support students after it’s too late, be proactive about improving student success.

For more on improving student retention, check out our blog here.