One-third of college students switch institutions at least once before earning a degree, says a National Student Clearinghouse Research Center report, “Transfer and Mobility. That doesn’t include community college students who earned an associate degree before transferring to a four-year institution.
“Reverse transfers” from four-year to two-year schools are common, notes the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Among students who transfer from four-year public institutions, more than half (51.9 percent) transfer “in reverse,” to two-year public institutions. And among students who transfer from two-year public colleges, more than a third (37.6 percent) move laterally, to other two-year public colleges. That is nearly as many as transfer from two-year to four-year public institutions: 41.2 percent.
From private colleges—both nonprofit and for-profit—many students also leave for public two-year colleges. From nonprofit colleges, 41.4 percent of transfers go to two-year institutions, and from for-profits, 43.9 percent do.
The report looks at full- and part-time students over a five-year period beginning in 2006. Transfer rates peak in students’ second year.
With so many transfers, federal graduation data is badly askew, college officials point out. Students who transfer before completing a degree are counted as dropouts.