African American man walking out of a building wearling a backpack - symbolizing a transfer student

What About Transfer Students?

Prospective students take the time to find the college that is right for them. Students no longer limit themselves to nearby institutions. And there are plenty of online options. But still, not every student starts their college journey at the institution they will graduate from. Higher education doesn’t always lose these students entirely when they drop-out. Some transfer. And today’s higher education system is purposefully designed to make the transfer process as easy as possible.

States, governing boards, and higher ed groups have spent decades developing a ‘seamless process.’ Common course numbering across state institutions (e.g., English 101 is English 101 at all state institutions) and articulation agreements enable students to transfer as many credits as possible. As a result – surprise – today’s institutions have a fair number of transfer students. And many are increasing the size of their transfer-in student cohorts.

African-American male student exits a building carrying a backpack. Maybe he's one of the college's transfer students.

Institutions need ways to measure the success of the growing number of transfer students. So, how do we judge the success of those transfer students? Should we treat them as a cohort, like first-time, full-time students (FTFT)? That hardly seems reasonable. Transfer students enter with differing numbers of credits. They are starting at different distances from the finish line. Not only from FTFT students, but also from each other.  This may explain why no one has created a metric designed specifically to measure the success of transfer students.

Until now.

A New Metric for a New Era

RealityCheck starts with IPEDS Outcome Measures data, which disaggregates an institution’s completion data by student group (Pell, non-Pell, first-time/transfer-in, full-time/part-time). RealityCheck compares each group’s expected completion rate to the reported rate – accounting for your institutional and student characteristics.

With RealityCheck, an institution can examine how its transfer students are faring compared with how they are expected to perform. Institutions already have the IPEDS Outcome Measures data. They just have to take that data and use it to drive improvement. With RealityCheck, we’ve done the analysis for you. This tool allows you to look deeper and identify answers to your most challenging question: “How do we help more of our students succeed?”

Row of encyclopedias on a shelf. Getting more data knowledge will allow a college to help specific student groups like transfer students.

The ability to drill down and examine how graduation rates differ for full-time vs. part-time or Pell vs. non-Pell students is an invaluable tool for an institution seeking to identify students who can benefit most from additional support.

Want to Learn More?

Find out more about RealityCheck by contacting IEHE. Learn how you can:

  • Use your RealityCheck Report to understand what you’re getting right, and where you have room for improvement.
  • Focus your institution’s limited resources on students who can benefit most from the support.
  • Show others the evidence that your team is making a difference in student success.
  • Better tell your institution’s student success story.