Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Higher Education Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Jaclyn Rivard

Second Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Minor

Third Advisor

Dr. Aurelio Valente


Four-year higher education institutions (HEIs) nationwide must become more transfer friendly so that more community college transfer (CCT) students persist and complete their bachelor’s degrees, as a path to more students’ economic mobility and to equity across communities. This study aims to provide learnings to support achievement of this imperative. The research question studied here is: What is the relationship between community college transfer (CCT) student support strategies at a four-year higher education institution (HEI) and the first-to-second-year retention of CCT students at their four-year HEI? Through quantitative analysis of a broad set of variables’ ability to predict student retention in National Louis University’s Direct to Success (D2S) CCT student-serving program, this study offers the higher education field actionable insights that can support increased success of CCT students on their paths to bachelor’s degrees and beyond. These findings and implications are especially notable considering the diverse student population NLU D2S serves that is majority from minoritized racial backgrounds, majority Pell eligible, and majority first-generation college goers.

Significant findings include the positive impact on student retention of maximizing credit transferability into the four-year HEI; encouraging students’ enrollment continuity (even if enrolled part-time) with no more than one term off in their 1st year; focusing on supporting students’ 2nd term GPA at the four-year HEI; and, encouraging students to meet with their academic/success advisor at least 2-3 times in their 1st year at their four-year HEI. Additionally, almost all students in the population chose a mix of asynchronous online and synchronous course modalities throughout their 1st year at the four-year HEI, suggesting that HEIs should plan academic schedules that offer students both. Higher education leaders nationwide can act upon these insights to better support the baccalaureate success of community college transfer students.