$700,000 grant awarded to help community college transfer students

By Vivienne Henning

The Office of Community College Research and Leadership received a grant to help community college transfer students earn bachelor’s degrees.

The University’s Office of Community College Research and Leadership, OCCRL, will use a $700,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fund new University studies.

The grant will be used to fund studies centered around helping transfer students from community colleges to earn bachelor’s degrees.

Researchers from the University of Utah will be working alongside those at the OCCRL to study institutional and student factors that impact transfer students.

“We’re working with 16 states to gather data on transfer students. We’ll do longitudinal analyses to see what happens to students enrolled in transfer programs,” said Debra Bragg, founding director of OCCRL. “States are making changes to improve transfer opportunities.”

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The OCCRL is working closely in a collaborative effort with states to do research and compare data. States have their own researchers that have access to more specific data.

“We hope to inform states about how policies are working,” Bragg said. “We’re working very closely with states to do research and work together. They have more access to more data. We want to work together with them to see how transfer policies are working.”

Bragg said that the phenomenon long associated with transfer students was that their first semester GPA after transferring usually drops. This is referred to as ‘transfer shock’.

“The transition is often difficult for students and they take time to adjust. What we know from prior research is students do rebound and grades go back up,” Bragg said. “We’re interested in trying to figure out if transfer shock still happens with states trying to improve their policy.”

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