A qualitative exploration of mattering and belonging in the transfer student experience

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
William Charles Woodward (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Deborah Taub

Abstract: Limited research has been conducted on how students' experiences at the colleges in which they initially enroll factor into the decision of where to transfer once a decision to leave the initial institution is made. This study addresses the issue in a context of mattering and belonging among college students. The data analyzed for this qualitative study were gathered through one individual interview and three electronic mail reflection prompts with each of the participants. The results show that for first-generation students the idea that a college degree would lead to a better life than their parents had motivated them to continue with their higher education by transferring instead of dropping out altogether. The amount of financial aid offered to students is important in making the decision of where to enroll for both initial and transfer institutions. When a decision between two campuses is being considered, the institution offering the most financial aid tends to be the one chosen. How positive or negative social interactions are for students at their initial institutions play a role in their expectations for such interactions at a transfer institution. Students who experienced negative social interactions at the initial institution sought more positive social connections at their transfer institutions. Upon transferring, the students found they were more focused on their academic programs, both in terms of identifying a major field of study and in connecting with the faculty members. Regarding the importance of faculty in how students perceive whether or not they matter or belong at an institution, the study shows that negative interactions are likely to drive students away, while positive ones will encourage students and make them feel more like they are part of the campus community. Through this study, it was discovered that despite a student's feelings of being in the right place, sometimes situations arise that are beyond their control. These situations may force a student to leave an institution in which they have felt a strong sense of fit and that they belonged there.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2013
Belonging, Mattering, Transfer Students
Students, transfer of $z United States $x Psychological aspects
Transfer students $z United States $x Psychology

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