Transfer shock: A study of community college transfer students during their first semester of transfer to a private four -year university
The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how community college transfer students experience both the transfer process and what has come to be known as the phenomenon of transfer shock, or the drop in grade point average from community college to the completion of the first semester of transfer to a four-year college. In order to examine this process, including the underlying cause of the grade point drop, seven participants were followed as they were experiencing their first semester at a private four-year university, prior to the possible occurrence of a grade point drop.
This study was conducted using qualitative research methods, including documentary data collection, face-to-face interviews, telephone and group interviews, questionnaires, and computer-mediated communication, i.e., e-mail and chat room. Although not required for participation in the study, the participants were given the opportunity to communicate with the researcher via e-mail, as well as face-to-face interviews. Unexpectedly, computer-mediated communication emerged as an important qualitative research tool and is discussed and analyzed in the results. However, an on-campus chat room, also set up for the participants, met with little success.
Data analysis revealed that while the majority of participants had positive experiences at their community colleges, transfer and adjustment to the private four-year university culture was not as smooth. The most significant difficulties were social and classroom cliques and unfamiliarity or inability to understand the university policies and procedures. Two major themes emerged in the pre- and post-transfer lives of these students. The first theme, The Student Body, represented the physical (re)location, physical appearance, and planned and unplanned physical alteration issues that emerged during the transfer experience. The second theme, Breaking the Codes, described the difficulty in gaining entry to social and classroom cliques, as well as understanding the new university's academic requirements, faculty requirements, registration, advisement and financial aid policies and procedures.
Recommendations for facilitating the transfer experience are proposed for community college transfer students, high school teachers, and administrators, faculty and staff at community colleges and four-year institutions.
0275: Community colleges
0710: Educational software