PEDAR: Executive Summary High School Academic Curriculum and the Persistence Path Through College
Level of High School Academic Curriculum Completed
Postsecondary Persistence 3 Years After Enrolling
Patterns of Transfer
Controlling for Related Variables
Research Methodology
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)
Patterns of Transfer

The rate of transfer for those who completed no higher than a core curriculum in high school was the same as for those who completed mid-level curricula. Roughly one-quarter of these students had transferred from their first institution, while just 13 percent in rigorous high school curricula had done so. However, as shown in figure E, among students who transferred, as their level of academic curricula increased, so did the likelihood of staying on track to a bachelor’s degree (i.e., they transferred to another 4-year institution without a break in enrollment). For those who had completed core curricula or lower, 31 percent of transfers stayed on the bachelor’s degree track, as did 39 percent of transfers who had completed mid-level curricula and 60 percent of those who had completed rigorous high school curricula.

These differences were clearly evident when examining the destination of transfers. Staying on track to a bachelor’s degree implies staying enrolled in a 4-year institution, so all transfers who stayed on track transferred to 4-year institutions. However, there were also differences across high school academic curricula with respect to the selectivity of the 4-year institutions where students transferred. Among all transfers who completed rigorous high school curricula, 40 percent transferred to selective institutions, compared with just 21 percent of their counterparts who completed mid-level curricula and 17 percent who completed core curricula or lower. Correspondingly, transfers who completed rigorous curricula were much less likely to transfer either to a less-than-4-year or a for-profit institution (21 percent) than their counterparts in mid-level (40 percent) or core curricula or lower (46 percent).

Examining the selectivity of students’ first institution with their second, the likelihood of making a lateral transfer from selective to selective institution was much higher for those completing rigorous high school curricula (49 percent) than for those completing either mid-level curricula (33percent) or no higher than core curricula (22 percent). Similarly, the likelihood of transferring from a selective institution to a less-than-4-year or for-profit institution was much lower for those completing rigorous curricula (19 percent) than for their counterparts completing mid-level curricula (40 percent) or no higher than core curricula (47 percent).

While the patterns of transfer appear to be similar among those who began in less-selective institutions (i.e., those completing rigorous high school curricula more likely than those in less rigorous curricula to transfer to selective institutions or to transfer laterally, and less likely to transfer to less-than-4-year or for-profit institutions), there is not enough statistical evidence to draw this conclusion.

Transfers left postsecondary education at similar rates no matter what their high school academic curricula. As shown in figure E, 5 to 7 percent of transfers left postsecondary education altogether as of 1998.

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