Campus Units

Education, School of

Document Type


Publication Version

Accepted Manuscript

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

Community College Review




Objective: International reverse transfer students are international students who begin their postsecondary journey at a four-year institution but subsequently transfer to a community college. In this qualitative study, we examine the lived experiences of international reverse transfers to understand the reasons for reverse-transfer and to understand the students’ learning experiences. Methods: Using a phenomenological approach, we recruited 10 international reverse transfer students attending one four-year university or one of the two community colleges. We conducted individual interviews with all participants and analyzed transcript data through Bourdieu’s sociological theory of field, habitus, and social and cultural capital. Results: We identified three types of international reverse transfer students: undergraduate reverse transfers, temporary reverse transfers, and postbaccalaureate reverse transfers. Each type reported different reasons for reverse transfer but shared similar influential factors of the reverse transfer process as well as the learning experiences while enrolled at the community colleges. Contributions: This study helps to fill an information and research gap regarding international reverse transfer students. We present the academic, social, and cultural challenges faced by international students and offer practical implications for higher education practitioners for improved understandings and better processes to serve international students from diverse cultural backgrounds.


Yu “April” Chen, Ran Li, Linda Serra Hagedorn International Reverse Transfer Students: A Critical Analysis Based on Field, Habitus, and Social and Cultural Capital. Community College Review. June 2020. Doi: 10.1177/0091552120932223. Posted with permission.

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Sage Journals



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Published Version