Transfer from Community College to University: Perspectives and Experiences of British Columbia Students
Through formal inter-institutional arrangements, articulated systems of postsecondary education claim to promote equality of opportunity by allowing for a seamless flow of students toward their educational and occupational goals. However, despite system wide articulation of course offerings, numerous studies indicate that the transfer experience is not unproblematic. This paper reports the findings of a qualitative study of the experiences of British Columbia university students who had transferred from community college. The central focus of this study was to portray students' experiences of the transfer process; document difficulties and successes encountered before, during, and after transfer; high- light advantages and disadvantages of transfer; and offer recommendations for improving the transfer process. In 1997, 47 indi- viduals who had transferred from one Lower Mainland Community College to one Lower Mainland University in 1996 were interviewed. The findings revealed that although the majority of students in this study support transfer as a viable and even preferable route to university degree completion, problems occur at each of the three stages of transfer as specified by Dougherty (1987). Obstacles to successful transfer by students include: difficulty gaining access to useful information; problems understanding transfer policies, practices, and procedures; and declines in GPA following transfer to university. Several recommendations for improving existing transfer policies and practices — including improving access to useful information by students; facilitating transfer through extensive coordination of transfer policies, practices, and procedures; and addressing differences in the teaching and learning experience at sending and receiving institutions — are offered to enhance successful transfer from community college to university.