Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Pamela L Eddy

Committee Member

James P Barber

Committee Member

Tracy L Cross


Students transfer from one institution of higher education to another for many different reasons, and students’ decision-making processes and enrollment patterns can be complex. This, coupled with a declining postsecondary enrollment nationally and the number of high school graduates leveling off, has forced the transfer admission offices to think creatively as they work to help fill an emerging enrollment gap and maintain current enrollment levels. This program evaluation took place at Liberal Arts University (LAU), a small, primarily undergraduate, liberal arts university in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States and used a case study approach. The theoretical framework that supported this study was composed the negative or deficit narrative around transfer (Green, 2006; Harper 2010), Schlossberg’s (1981) transition theory, and Weick’s (1995) sensemaking. To answer the evaluation questions, a qualitative approach was used, which incorporated focus groups, individual interviews, observational data, and a digital and material review. While each transfer student had their own individual experiences throughout the recruitment, admission, and enrollment processes, the themes they identified can help administrators to better understand the typical experience of this student population. The first major finding included understanding the transfer student journey with themes including (a) preparation for transfer and associated adjustments; (b) strategies for the transition and beyond; (c) expectations or obligations students had outside of the classroom; and (d) engagement on campus. The second finding was the transfer student concerns and negative experiences. The themes included (a) on-campus admission tours; (b) the overall structure of academic advising for new transfer students and the experience with academic advisors; (c) full-time student expectations; (d) on-campus housing; and (e) new transfer student orientation.



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