The Challenges for Persistence with Two-Year College Student Transfers and How One Survey Attempts to Identify Pathways of Success for Geoscience Students

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 5:15 PM
Carolyn E Wilson, American Geological Institute, Alexandria, VA, United States, Kaatje Van Der Hoeven Kraft, Mesa Community College, Mesa, AZ, United States and Ben Wolfe, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, United States
With the rapid growth in enrollments at two-year colleges (2YCs), these institutions provide a rich talent pool for future science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) graduates at four-year universities, particularly students from underrepresented groups (American Geosciences Institute [AGI], 2014). This is particularly true for the geosciences because over 25% of recent geoscience graduates with a bachelor’s degree attended a 2YC for at least one semester (AGI, 2013). However, it is difficult to successfully track 2YC transfers because many 2YC students do not complete an associate’s degree and very few institutions offer a geoscience-specific associate’s degree. In order to recruit future geoscientists from this pool of students, researchers need to better understand the barriers these students face when trying to transfer and how they are able to successfully navigate these barriers.

During spring 2014 graduation, AGI surveyed students completing their bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees about their educational background, experiences and future plans after graduation. Those graduates who attended a 2YC for at least one semester provided insight into their enrollment decisions as they transferred into a four-year university. The sample from this survey represents 154 responses from a total of 596 responses. General demographics reveal an older population (average age: 30, median: 27), a higher percent of male students (54% male, 40% female) and Caucasians (76%, 10% non Caucasian) than a traditional 2YC student. Students attending 2YC nationally are on average 28 years old (median: 24), are 57% women, and are 51% Caucasian (AACC Fast Facts, 2014). In addition, responses indicated some of the factors that influenced their ability to successfully transfer into 4-year geoscience programs including personal motivation and successful transfer of credits.