The successful experiences of first generation community college transfer students Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/tm70mz00p

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  • The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the successes of first generation, community college transfer students served by a TRiO/Student Support Services (TRiO/SSS) program. This study addresses a specific problem in higher education – there are a limited number of first generation transfer students who successfully matriculate from a community college to a university to complete a four-year degree. A large number of students attending community colleges are first generation and identified as disadvantaged students and unable to earn a degree. In 2005, there were more than 4.5 million low-income, first generation students enrolled in postsecondary education, equating to approximately 24% of the undergraduate population (Berkner et al., 2005). Previous studies focused primarily on students’ deficits and not their successes; this study gathered responses from nine study participants that were on target for a successful transfer. There are a limited number of studies that interviewed students prior to the transfer. In an attempt to gather relevant and current data reflective of the students' experiences, interviews were held during the students' final term at the Rogue Community College (RCC). Two broad research questions were the basis for this study: (a) what successes have you experienced as a first generation transfer student while receiving services from a TRiO/Student Support Services program as you prepare to transfer to a four-year school? (b) what activities and resources provided by the TRiO/SSS program contributed to your successful experience as a community college transfer student? The study used three data collection methods: (a) semi-structured face-to-face interviews, (b) a focus group, and (c) journaling. The participants' responses were recorded, transcribed, coded, and analyzed. The data revealed five predominant themes: 1. TRiO/SSS provided a community for students that sometimes acted as family 2. Access to TRiO/SSS services had a positive impact on student success and transfer 3. A sense of belonging to TRiO contributed to student’s educational success 4. Navigating college and how to "do" school was learned at TRiO and Rogue Community College (RCC) 5. Student's confidence to complete the Bachelor's degree was increased by their utilization of the TRiO/SSS program services The study concluded that first generation community college students, served by a TRiO/SSS program, were successful transfer students. The students stated that they were well prepared to transfer to the four-year university and complete a Bachelor's degree. Furthermore, the study participants were able to articulate their successes and identify the resources and services that contributed to their success. Implications for further research include (a) this study was limited as there were no comparison subjects; a future study could compare non-TRiO students to students served by a TRiO program to determine differences. (b) the study could be repeated and the same students interviewed after they transfer to the university. (c) a future study could be conducted at other Oregon community colleges that have TRiO/SSS programs to see if the student successes and transfer rates are similar. Results of this study will provide insight for higher education administrators, policy makers, and college personnel seeking to improve student transfer services between institutions and increase degree completion at the community college level.
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