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Diving Into the Pool: An Analysis of Texas Community College Students’ Transfer Institution Choice Sets


by Huriya Jabbar, Eliza Epstein, Wesley Edwards & Joanna D. Sánchez - 2019

Background/Context: Community colleges are drawing renewed attention from policy makers and advocates seeking to increase college attendance and completion. Nearly half of all students awarded a bachelor’s degree attended a community college. However, we know little about how community college students decide where and how to pursue postsecondary education, or how they select a four-year institution—choices that have significant implications for student outcomes.

Focus of Study: This study examines transfer-intending community college students’ choice sets, or the list of institutions they are selecting from. Specifically, we ask: What kinds of colleges and universities are in transfer-intending students’ choice sets, and how are these choice sets shaped by individual and structural barriers?

Setting: The research took place in two community college systems in Central Texas.

Research Design: Drawing on data from 95 interviews with transfer-intending community college students in Texas—the majority of whom are first-generation college-goers, low-income, or students of color—we examine their choice sets, the institutions to which they considered transferring.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Our findings suggest significant heterogeneity among our sample of community college students seeking transfer to four-year institutions. We find that geography, financial concerns, and quality of institution all play a role in student considerations—though these mechanisms operate differently for groups of students. Students’ choices are bounded, but in different ways. We identify five approaches to choice-set construction among our sample that have differential implications for programs and policies that help students successfully apply and transfer to high-quality four-year institutions.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 121 Number 10, 2019, p. -
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22761, Date Accessed: 7/24/2019 3:03:42 AM

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About the Author
  • Huriya Jabbar
    University of Texas at Austin
    E-mail Author
    HURIYA JABBAR is an assistant professor in the Educational Policy and Planning program in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research examines the social and political dimensions of market-based reforms and privatization in education. She is currently studying school choice policy and school leaders’ behavioral responses to competition; choice and decision making in higher education; and teacher job choices, recruitment, and retention. Recent publications include “Rethinking Teacher Turnover: Developing New Measures of Instability in Schools” (with J. Holme, E. Germain, and J. Dinning), Educational Researcher; and “Recruiting ‘Talent’: School Choice and Teacher Hiring in New Orleans,” Educational Administration Quarterly.
  • Eliza Epstein
    University of Texas at Austin
    E-mail Author
    ELIZA EPSTEIN is a doctoral student in the Educational Policy and Planning program in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Texas at Austin. Her predominant research interest is equity of opportunity for students through mechanisms such as choice, teacher development, school/community partnerships, and innovative, student-centered curriculum. Recent publications include “‘Échale Ganas’: Family and Community Support of Latino/a Community College Students’ Transfer to Four-Year Universities” (with H. Jabbar, C. Serrata, and J. Sánchez), Journal of Latinos and Education; and “Getting From Here to There: The Role of Geography in Community College Students’ Transfer Decisions” (with H. Jabbar and J. Sánchez), The Urban Review.
  • Wesley Edwards
    University of Texas at Austin
    E-mail Author
    WESLEY EDWARDS is a doctoral student in the Educational Policy and Planning program in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Texas at Austin. His areas of specialization include teacher labor markets, teacher and school leader retention efforts, and student pathways into higher education. Recent publications include: “Impact of Principal Turnover” (with D. Quinn, E. Fuller, and A. Pendola), University Council for Educational Administration; and “Reflecting on Modern Public-School Teacher Experience: An Overview of Select Challenges Facing the Educator Workforce With an Emphasis on Teachers of Color,” Texas Education Review.
  • Joanna Sánchez
    Excelencia in Education
    E-mail Author
    JOANNA D. SÁNCHEZ is a program manager at Excelencia in Education, a nonprofit located in Washington, DC, whose mission is to accelerate Latino student success in higher education. Her research interests include Latino student success in higher ed; school-family-community engagement with a specific focus on working Latino/a parents; and geospatial analysis in educational policy. Recent publications include “Communities and School Ratings: Examining Geography of Opportunity in an Urban School District Located in a Resource-Rich City” (with T. Green and E. Germain), Urban Review; and “Getting From Here to There: The Role of Geography in Community College Students’ Transfer Decisions” (with H. Jabbar and E. Epstein), Urban Review.
 
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