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New Report Shows College Transfer Rates Within Academic Year Down Slightly

The number of college students who transfer from one school to another within a year appears to be stabilizing. 

A new report out Tuesday from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reveals 9.1 percent of college students in the 2012-13 academic year attended more than one institution, down from 9.4 percent in the previous year. In 2010-11 the transfer rate was 8.8 percent.

The Postsecondary Mobility Rate report for 2011-2013 includes an analysis of students from more than 3,600 colleges and universities, which covers about 98 percent of students attending public and private nonprofit postsecondary institutions. It looks at movement of students within a single year, not just between academic years, illustrating various pathways to degree completion.

In every year examined, the highest mobility rates were among community college students (11.5 percent last year) and lowest for those attending private nonprofit institutions (4.9 percent in 2012-13).

Many students enter community colleges with the intention of moving on and completing a four-year degree.

The Community College Research Center at Columbia University recently studied whether community college students should earn an associate degree before transferring to a four-year institution. In a paper released in April, researchers note that 80 percent of student enter community college with the hope of eventually getting a bachelor's degree or higher, yet just 15 percent complete a bachelor's degree within six years.

The CCRC concludes that what field of study students choose can make a difference in the potential impact on further education. Students who complete Associate in Arts degrees have a higher probability of earning a bachelor's degree within six years, compared to community college students who get a two-year degree with more of a workforce focus, such as an Associate in Applied Science, the study found.

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