The Student Experience of Transfer Pathways between Ivy Tech Community College and Indiana University
This report details findings from focus groups with college students across Indiana. All of these students were planning to transfer or had transferred from the state community college system, Ivy Tech, to a school in the Indiana University system. We wanted to find out what these students had to say about their experiences preparing for and navigating the transfer from Ivy Tech to Indiana University. These insights can help policymakers and education leaders understand the barriers and opportunities transfer students face so they may adjust policies and practices accordingly.
For students seeking a bachelor’s degree, the idea of starting at a community college is a sensible one. Students could save money and get a strong foundation for success. Unfortunately, this rationale is belied by the reality that many students experience college as a maze and not a straight path forward.
Most students we spoke to shared stories about false starts, costly wandering, poor advisement, time wasted and money lost. Understanding these stories is essential. The roadblocks these and other transfer students experience can have serious impacts on persistence and completion. The problem is especially acute as a significant majority of students served by these institutions arrive at college as unconfident or underprepared learners.
This research was funded by Lumina Foundation and included roughly fifty focus groups with 333 transfer students in Indiana from eight Indiana University campuses and eight Ivy Tech Community College campuses. This work was planned and executed in close partnership with Indiana University and Ivy Tech. While qualitative research is a powerful vehicle for generating a deeper understanding of a problem, the conclusions drawn from research of this kind should be viewed as suggestive rather than definitive.