Research Brief by Ashley Swing, Ed.D. on Low-Income Transfer Students: Paths to Bachelor’s Degree Completion

Student Walking on Campus

Ashley Swing, Ed.D, Graduate of the Adult and Community College Education Ed.D. Program, developed a research brief based on her dissertation about the experiences of low-income students, defined as those who received a federal Pell grant, who successfully transferred from a North Carolina community college to a University of North Carolina System university identified as a high-performing partnership pair and the institutional practices and policies that affected their experiences.

Key points:

  •  Transfer Readiness: A vast majority of students had intentions of completing a bachelor’s degree prior to entering the community college and the community college was essential to their preparation for the university. The bridge to the university that the community college provided was essential for preparation in different areas, such as academic, interpersonal, and practical, that were necessary for their successful acceptance and transition to the university.
  • Robust Support Systems: Support systems, emotional support from family members, and strength and drive from within were imperative for persistence with a connection to faculty in the classroom as the primary source of institutional support.
  • Varied Finances and Employment Experiences: Nearly all students in this study discussed their employment activities while enrolled in college. A vast majority of students (76%) worked while attending community college and a slightly smaller majority of students (64%) are working while attending a university. The consequences of frequent work included an inability to use support services or participate in extracurricular activities due to the necessity of working. This inability to fully integrate on campus was a disappointment and made them feel that they were not getting the full college experience.

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