Panel Paper: Who Transfers and Where Do They Go? Community College Students in Florida

Friday, November 7, 2014 : 11:15 AM
Aztec (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Ben Backes and Erin Dunlop Velez, American Institutes for Research
While previous research has documented how traditional high school students choose four-year colleges to attend, little is known about how community college transfer students make choices between four-year institutions. We utilize a comprehensive longitudinal dataset containing a census of every Florida public high school student to describe two- to four-year college transfer patterns. We make several observations.

First, we document the extreme degree to which community college transfer students are sensitive to distance. Relative to recent high school graduates, community college transfer students are considerably less likely to choose a four-year institution located far away. For example, at Miami-Dade College, the largest source of transfer students in Florida, 80% of transfer students choose nearby Florida International University, compared to only 4% of students who transfer to the state flagship school, the University of Florida. These patterns are important given the large disparities that exist between different four-year institutions in quality measures such as instructional expenditures and graduation rates. Second, we show that even though transfer students as a group appear to be more geographically constrained than those who recently graduated from high school, there is still some extent to which high achieving community college students eventually sort into better four-year universities.