Iowa's community college transfer students, 1996-2000: demographics, graduation, and retention rates
This study compares Iowa community college (CC) transfer students who transferred to one of Iowa's three Regent universities in the fall of 1996 to students who started at one of the Iowa Regent universities in 1994 and who were still attending such university in the fall of 1996 (referred to as non-transfer, or NT, students). In previous educational literature, these students have been referred to as "native" students. To be culturally sensitive, this study identifies these students as "non-transfer students" or NT students. Demographic comparisons are made according to age, gender, ACT scores, and the number of credits either transferred or accumulated during the first two years of college. CC transfer students, when compared to NT students, were significantly older (22.22 vs. 20.09, t(2105df) = 18.92, p < 0.05), a significantly lower percentage were female (46.6%, vs. 52.6%, Z = -4.65, p < 0.05), had significantly lower ACT scores (21.19, vs. 24.25, t(6950df) = -27.10, p < 0.05), and transferred more credits than NT students had accumulated in two years (54.48 vs. 51.33 credits, t(2639df) = 6.941, p < 0.05). Additional comparisons between CC transfer students and NT students were made in the spring of 2000 according to grade point averages at graduation or time of exit, graduation rates, and attrition rates, stratified by ACT scores, gender, and college major. CC transfer students' grade point average (GPA) at graduation was statistically lower than the NT students' graduation GPA (2.83, vs. 3.09, t(1348df) = -11.33, p < 0.05). However when stratified by ACT scores, the differences were less than a plus or minus grade differentiation (0.33 difference on a 4.0 scale). Overall, graduation rates for CC transfer students were significantly lower than NT students and attrition rates significantly higher (53.73%, vs. 82.71%, Z = -26.19, p < 0.05; 34.37% vs. 12.6%, Z = 22.01, p < 0.05). Implications for practice include social and academic integration of CC transfer students beginning at the community colleges, collaboration with the Regent universities' faculty and advisors, and continuing once the transfer has been completed.