Surprising Community College Transfer Statistics


It's a fact that many people utilize community colleges - and many end up transferring at some point. Here are some interesting statistics specific to community college transfer. Take a look.

Community College is Popular!

In 2012, nearly 13 million students were enrolled in community college across the country, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. These students span all walks of life, economic brackets, ages, and genders. Some are furthering job skills, and some are starting new careers.

Some are using community college as the first step on their academic journey. How many of those students will transfer? And when they do, what happens to their credits? Do they successfully complete their programs and earn their bachelor's degrees? If you are thinking about community college, take a look at some interesting community college transfer statistics that might help answer these questions.

Student Transfer Statistics

Students moving into college

These statistics make two things very clear:

  • The majority of students at community colleges are not on a baccalaureate track (not necessarily a bad thing).
  • Undergraduate baccalaureate students are taking advantage of community college resources in large numbers.

Here's another interesting statistic:

Are there advantages to this plan of attack? Perhaps - read on!

Credit Transfer Statistics

When it comes to changing colleges, credit transfer is definitely the tricky part, and the numbers show it. Here are some interesting facts found in an Hechinger Report article on transferring credit:

  • Approximately one in three transfer students successfully transferred all their credits to their new school.
  • Nearly 40% of students received no transfer credit and lost an average of 27 credits each (almost an entire academic year's worth of class credit!).
  • Of those students whose credits didn't transfer, around 31% didn't even tell their new schools they had previous college credit!

Obviously, the credit transfer process is not clean and clear cut. Your choice of schools can have a major effect on the process; choosing schools that offer transfer agreements can be a huge help. Also, per stats on The Hechinger Report, your credits are more likely to transfer to public universities than private, not-for-profit colleges and universities. And who was most successful at credit transfer? Students with high GPAs were more likely to have success transferring credits.

The more you know about credit transfer, the higher your chances of success. To avoid falling into that 40% who didn't transfer their credits, check out these posts: How Do I Find Out If My Community College Credits Will Transfer and Avoid These Common Pitfalls in Transferring Credit from Community College.

Graduation Statistics

College graduates with diplomas

If your ultimate goal is to earn your bachelor's degree, then these statistics are really what it's all about. All the facts and figures about community college, changing schools, and transferring credit don't really mean much if the journey doesn't end with a diploma in your hand. So when it comes to graduating, what do the numbers show?

According to the article Graduate, Transfer, Graduate at Inside Higher Ed:

  • 60% of community college students who transferred to a 4-year school earned their bachelor's degree within four years, and 12% continued to work toward their degree after the 4-year mark.
  • 71% of transfer students who came in with an associate's degree or certificate completed their bachelor's degree program in four years, and 9% remained enrolled, working toward their degree

So what does that mean for you? Statistically, community college transfer students who complete an associate's degree or certificate have higher 4-year graduation rates than those students who transfer before completing a degree. Some of that may be due to participation in transfer programs between schools, but if graduation is your goal, it's certainly something to consider!

Ultimately, statistics are just numbers. They can't begin to take into account all the possible scenarios and factors at play; however, they are useful for evaluating success rates and trends. These statistics can give you some food for thought as you contemplate and chart your academic journey.

By Laurie Smith
November 2017
college transferring college credit

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