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Bucking the Trend: How Some Institutions Grew Their Transfer Enrollment Amid a Pandemic

by NSC Blog | Oct 20, 2021 | Clearinghouse News, Research Reports, Research Services |

Nationwide, close to 200,000 fewer students switched colleges in the academic year 2020-2021 than in the prior year, a drop of 8.4%, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s report issued in August. That’s more than double the rate of decline seen among non-transfer students during the same year, and nearly triple the rate of decline in transfer students in 2019-2020.

Because the data revealed not all colleges saw steep declines, the Research Center commissioned a special report, Bucking the Trend: How Some Institutions Grew Their Transfer Enrollment Amid a Pandemic, that offers insights into how some colleges were able to grow their transfer enrollment in 2020-2021 even as numbers were declining nationally.

From a sample of roughly 400 colleges with double-digit increases in overall transfer enrollment, the Research Center identified a dozen that showed an unusual growth in upward transfer enrollment during the fall 2020 and/or the spring 2021 compared to their pre-pandemic enrollment trends. The report author spoke with campus officials to learn more about their growth.

This report continues with an examination of the increase in upward mobility into highly selective colleges and concludes with a look at the transfer challenges ahead, as colleges emerge from the ongoing pandemic. Some of those outliers credited longstanding efforts to smooth the transfer process; others pointed to more recent changes to explain their growth.

For Doug Shapiro, Executive Director of the Research Center, the practices highlighted provide hope that other colleges can also achieve higher levels of transfer growth.

“What stands out to me about these strategies is that they are not rocket science, not specific to the pandemic, and not restricted to the highly selective colleges that gained the most last year.  These strategies can still be applied now, or even post-pandemic. Any college that saw itself in the broader declines of the Clearinghouse data can adopt these ideas to help prevent further declines, or even to create growth going forward,” Shapiro added.

Learn more by reading, Bucking the Trend: How Some Institutions Grew Their Transfer Enrollment Amid a Pandemic, which was funded by support from Ascendium Education Group and ECMC Foundation.

“Any college that saw itself in the broader declines of the Clearinghouse data can adopt these ideas to help prevent further declines, or even to create growth going forward.”

Doug Shapiro
Executive Director, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

 

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