In November 2023, the U.S. Department of Education released new data about bachelor’s degree completion rates for transfer students. I have been interested in transfer students for years and it is a topic that I want to better understand. I use this blog to remember the data I read about and capture my initial thoughts. It is also a place for me to explore using data visualization tools.
The researchers defined a dyad as a pair of institutions consisting of a public community college and a public or private four-year institution. The data only includes pairs where at least 30 students enrolled in the community college in 2014 and at least 30 students transferred and graduated from the four-year institution in at least 8 years. Nationally they identified 385 dyads, of which 8 were in Maryland.
Success of DYADS
Montgomery College belongs to four of the eight dyads in Maryland, showing that Montgomery College has a robust transfer program.
Maryland’s most successful dyad is students who transferred from Wor-Wic Community College to Salisbury University; 10% of students who transferred using that pathway graduated with a bachelor’s degree. Nationally, there were only 18 dyads with completion rates of more than 10%. The most successful dyad, Tri-County Technical College X Clemson University, had a completion rate of 20%. Kapiolani Community College X University of Hawaii at Manoa had a completion rate of 16%. Followed by four dyads with a completion rate of 13%, four dyads with a completion rate of 12%, and eight dyads with a completion rate of 11%.
Size of Transfer Programs
In addition to the completion rate of students transferring in a dyad, it is interesting to examine the size of a dyad program because in my mind a truly successful dyad will have both a high completion rate and be the "right" size. What the "right" size is I'm not sure of yet, but of a size that shows that is sufficient to support the continued transfer of students and meets the needs of the students.
The largest number of students transferred from the Community College of Baltimore County to Towson University (2,282). It looks like all transfer students from Montgomery College who transferred to a four-year institution are counted in all four Montgomery College dyads, since the number of transfer students in the denominator is 1,856 for all four dyads. This is not something I fully understood when first looking at the data. If this is true, Montgomery College has a very high total completion rate of nearly 17%.
I experimented to make a chart showing both the number of students who transferred to a four-year institution and the number of students who completed a bachelor's degree. I sorted it by percentage of students who completed a bachelor's degree. I believe the chart works fairly well at illustrating all the data, and it helped me see the potential issue with the Montgomery College data at the same time.