What Higher Education Has to Say About the Transition to College
by Sara Goldrick-Rab — 2007
With Deborah Faye Carter and Rachelle Winkle Wagner
Higher education researchers have much to say about the transition to college. This field focuses primarily on inequities in college participation and completion, the relative importance of high school preparation, and the utility of financial aid in promoting enrollment. This literature’s strongest conceptual emphasis is on theoretical models of student retention. Less is known about other facets of the transition to college, including different postsecondary pathways and college outcomes.
This paper describes the major findings of research on the transition to college contributed by higher education, and how further research might be improved. The specific areas covered are college preparation, college access, persistence, and college outcomes. The reviewed literature covered extant research on the transition to college as conducted by higher education researchers.
This essay is an analysis of extant research on the college transition in the field of higher education
This review highlights the field’s major shortcoming as undertaking insufficiently rigorous, empirical testing of theories on the transition to college. Existing research on postsecondary pathways is often compromised by data or methodological limitations, failure to be critical in attributing causality, and not differentiating effects occurring at different measurement levels (i.e., individual vs. institution).
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