It's Not Enough to Get Through the Open Door: Inequalities by Social Background in Transfer from Community Colleges to Four-Year Colleges
by Kevin J. Dougherty & Gregory S. Kienzl - 2006
The growing policy interest in community colleges as gateways to the baccalaureate degree naturally raises the question of how equitably transfer opportunities are distributed by student background and what factors may explain background differences that might be found. We analyze two nationally representative data sets to examine how the likelihood of transfer is affected by social background, precollege academic characteristics, external demands at college entrance, and experiences during college. We find that high-SES students have significantly higher transfer rates, in part because of advantages in precollege academic preparation and educational aspirations. Older college entrants are much less likely to transfer than students entering college right out of high school, and a significant portion of this age gap is more often due to having children, lower educational aspirations, and a vocational major, and being enrolled part time. Though women and nonwhites differ from men and whites in transfer rates, these differences are not statistically significant. But there is an important caveat: blacks tend to have higher educational aspirations than whites of the same socioeconomic background. When we control for educational aspirations, thus removing this black aspirational advantage, the black-white gap in transfer rates widens considerably, becoming statistically significant in one of our samples but not the other.
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