Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy





First Advisor

Lorenzo Baber


Given the growing number of students choosing to pursue higher education through the community college pipeline, considerable research has been directed towards examining the experiences of community college transfer students. Such research often places focus on comparing academic outcomes between transfer students and non-transfer students and examining background factors and challenges associated with transfer student adjustment in relationship to persistence to graduation. Taking such an approach results in a limited view of transfer students, operating from a deficit-centered approach, and fails to adequately investigate outcomes for community college transfer students beyond graduation.

Guided by Rendon's (1994) validation theory, this instrumental case study sought to explore community college transfer students' reflections regarding what support and encouragement they found to be meaningful as they considered their expectations for their post-graduation pursuits. These students were selected using purposive sampling and were enrolled in soft, pure disciplines as classified by Biglan (1973) at a public, four-year university. Through a pair of face-to-face, semi-structured interviews, seven participants were questioned regarding interactions with faculty, staff, peers, and family that caused them to feel validated. They were also asked about their plans immediately following the completion of their bachelor's degree and their expectations and confidence associated with those plans.

Process and focused coding strategies (Stake, 1995) were used, revealing four themes: 1) families serving as supplemental support and validation, 2) variations in students' expectations of the university experience in comparison to existing models and theories, 3) barriers to engaging as transfer students, and 4) educational experiences supporting positive expectations, including the transfer experience itself. These findings were used to inform recommendations for practice, policy, and future research. This includes the recommendation that transfer students no longer be viewed as an at-risk population but instead approached as possessing important tools and resources developed through unique experiences that can be drawn upon as they navigate future transitions.


Copyright Owner

Kristin Towers



File Format


File Size

147 pages