Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Hillary Morgan, PhD

Committee Member

Katie Smith, PhD

Committee Member

Thomas Grites, PhD


community college, transfer students, private institution, engagement, narrative research, nontraditional student


The purpose of this study was to understand the academic and social engagement experiences of community college transfer students at a private four-year institution. Approached through the lens of a conceptual critical framework for transfer student research advanced by Laanan and Jain (2017), and using a qualitative narrative methodology, this study collected the stories of 12 community college transfer students attending a private four-year institution to understand their engagement experiences. Restorying participants’ narratives and multiple rounds of coding including: deductive coding, open and in vivo coding and process coding revealed the findings for this study. The findings indicate that individuals’ background experiences based on their various social identities influenced their decision to attend community college; how they came to the decision to attend community college contributed to their community college experiences; and, their pre-transfer experiences, collectively, impacted their engagement experiences after transfer to a private four-year institution. This study offers several future implications for practice and research. Recommendations for practice include: establishing a transfer receptive culture (Jain et al., 2011), increasing opportunities for student-faculty/advisor interaction and offering relevant engagement opportunities for community college transfer students. This study also identified future research opportunities involving community college transfer students at a private four-year institution, approached through qualitative methods and further research through the lens of the critical framework for transfer student research, including the additional components discovered through this study.