The community college system across the United States has approximately 2.1 million full-time college students and 3.7 million part-time college students enrolled each year according to the Community College Research Center. In 2017, 34% of the undergraduate students enrolled at an institution of higher education were attending a public two-year college.

According to a recent article in Forbes Magazine, transfer students are MORE successful than their counterparts who attended higher education institutions as freshmen. Freshmen students earn their four-year degree at a rate of approximately 73%, while transfer students at the same institutions earn their four-year degree at a rate of approximately 75%.

As you may or may not know, traditional Student Search avenues for prospective transfer students are rudimentary at best. College Board, ACT, NRCCUA, and CBSS don’t keep track of transfer students. They are not very effective places for locating names of possible transfer students. So, what CAN you do to recruit transfer students effectively?

  1. STOP reducing the discount for your community college transfer students! Most transfer students chose to attend community college because they were concerned about tuition costs. Data has demonstrated these students are more likely to graduate than your freshmen students, so provide them the same discount. You need to determine a good methodology to fairly and equitably distribute your institutional dollars to transfer students.
  2. Talk with transfer students early. Most students have not decided where they want to transfer when beginning classes at a two-year institution. Some are limited by distance (they want to stay closer to home), but many will consider colleges several hours away or even out-of-state. Students aren’t aware of their options. Most community colleges offer an introductory course related to getting a four-year degree. Faculty for those introductory courses may be looking for guest speakers on the topics of college transfer, financial aid/literacy, time management, academic planning, and study skills. Contact your local community colleges to see if there’s an opportunity for you to present!
  3. Develop a relationship with those who come in contact with students wanting to transfer. Community colleges usually have a transfer coordinator with whom you can coordinate events. They can help you connect with students to conduct on-the-spot admissions, coordinate bus trips or visits to your university, and promote your institution to the students with whom they come in contact.

Transfer students are as (or more) successful than their four-year freshmen counterparts. Therefore, you should consider how to change up your traditional recruitment methods for seeking out these students. You must find new and different ways to communicate with your potential transfer student population to be successful. There’s no time like the present – reach out to your local transfer partners today!

1Sanchez, N.L. (2019, January). Community College Transfers Outperform High Schoolers at Top Colleges, So Why Do We Ignore Them? Forbes Magazine.