Invisible Transfer Students

By Mitch Smith

Enrollment managers have long spoken about the mobility of students, citing the high number of credits transferred in and out of their colleges and grumbling that federal graduation rate calculations fail to account for those transient degree-seekers.

Data released today by the National Student Clearinghouse back those assertions, showing that a third of those who were first-time college students in 2006 had attended at least one other institution by summer 2011.

The study followed 2.8 million full- and part-time students of all ages at every type of institution. Students were counted as transfers if they enrolled at a second institution before earning a degree. Thus, students who moved to a four-year institution after earning an associate degree were not counted, but university students who took a community college class over the summer were. High school students who enrolled in concurrent enrollment courses were not counted as transfers.

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