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Preparing students for the university: What is the effect of community college accommodation on students who transfer to state universities?

Bruce D Johnson, University of Massachusetts Amherst


For nearly a century, community colleges have worked to accommodate students both in and out of the classroom. They do this for a number of reasons, in a number of ways, and to many this is one of the main features that distinguish these institutions that pride themselves on being student-centered from their counterparts, the state universities. Another distinguishing feature is that community colleges have exceptionally high rates of student satisfaction. While students who are accommodated may feel satisfied while enrolled in community colleges, this study revealed how they felt once they transferred to four-year state universities. Research shows that most students experience “transfer shock,” which includes among other things an immediate decline in the GPA. Do these transfer students feel the community college experience and education helped prepare them in their pursuit of a baccaluarate degree, or do they find the transition more difficult than expected? This study looks at the community college, its history, and its history of student accommodation. Featured are phenomonologic interviews with eight subjects—students who transferred from community colleges and are presently enrolled in state universities. Interviews revealed that they were accommodated at their respected community colleges, they suffered “transfer shock,” they were not prepared for university culture and academics, but that they found community college accommodation necessary, as it prepared them for college, if not the university itself. Also included is a review of a University of Massachusetts (Amherst) “Community College Transfer Student” survey which supplements the research.

Subject Area

Community colleges

Recommended Citation

Johnson, Bruce D, "Preparing students for the university: What is the effect of community college accommodation on students who transfer to state universities?" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3056242.