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Disaggregate: Transfer enrollment status


Whether students are first-time students in college or have transferred from another postsecondary institution

Why it matters

Nearly half of first-time college students begin their postsecondary career in community colleges. The transfer process can increase time to degree and, depending on institutional policies and norms, create logistical and other challenges for students. Transfer students sometimes face difficulty in accessing support services and integrating into campus culture, which may in turn affect their chances of graduation. Approximately 42 percent of students who start at community colleges and transfer out earn a bachelor’s degree within six years, compared to 66 percent of students who start at public four-year institutions. Disaggregating data by transfer enrollment status can allow colleges and universities to better identify and support transfer students.

What to know about measurement

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) surveys institutions on their number of “transfer-in (non-first-time entering)” students but does not provide information on the type of institution from which they transferred, which is important in understanding students’ experiences. Institutions can use individual-level student records to identify whether a student is a first-time or transfer student, as well as the type of institution from which they transferred (for example, from a two-year college into a four-year college).

Source frameworks

disaggregate appeared in three source frameworks reviewed for this report: the California Cradle-to-Career Data System, the National Student Clearinghouse Postsecondary Data Partnership, and the Institute for Higher Education Policy Postsecondary Metrics framework.


The framework's recommendations are based on syntheses of existing research. Please see the framework report for a list of works cited.

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