New Research Shows Increase in Reverse Transfers

By Catherine Groux
Posted July 25, 2012 10:57 AM

Many students no longer follow the traditional path to higher education.
Many students no longer follow the traditional path to higher education.
Although in the past the traditional route to higher education involved graduating from college and immediately enrolling at a four-year university, new research shows that today, many students are finding alternate paths to a degree. For example, a report by the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™ shows there has been an increase in the number of reverse transfer students, or those who begin at a four-year school and transfer to a two-year institution.

The new study looked at first-time college students who enrolled in four-year schools in the fall of 2005 and tracked them for six years. In doing so, researchers found that about 14.4% of these bachelor's degree seekers transferred to a two-year school in non-summer months. Only 16.6% of these reverse transfer students went back to the four-year school where they began their studies, while 28.3% returned to a four-year institution, but not the same one where they started their journey to a bachelor's degree.

While there is debate over the value of reverse transfers, the study suggests it depends on when and for how long students attend a two-year school. For example, only 33 to 40% of students who reverse transferred in non-summer months and returned to their four-year school earned a college degree. At the same time, 77.5% of students who enrolled in a two-year college for the summer then returned to their four-year university completed a degree program.

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