In our third Signature Report, we examine enrollment pathways of reverse transfer students, those who moved from four-year to two-year institutions outside of summer months. Understanding this type of student mobility can help campus policymakers at both two-year and four-year institutions craft policies that will help institutions reach their enrollment goals and better assist students in making decisions about their educational pathways.

  • Within six years, 14.4 percent of the first-time students who started at a four-year institution in the fall of 2005 subsequently enrolled at a two-year institution outside of the summer months.
  • More than half of reverse transfer students did not return to the four-year sector by the end of the study period.
  • The majority of reverse transfer students (71.1 percent) stayed at a two-year institution for more than one term.
  • By the end of the six-year study period, two-thirds of reverse transfer students neither had a credential from nor were still enrolled at a four-year institution.
  • Only one in 10 of the students who left their original four-year institution to enroll at a two-year institution in nonsummer months completed a degree or were still enrolled at the original four-year institution by the end of the six-year study period.

The complete Signature Report includes detailed summaries on the pathways of reverse transfer students and related tables; color charts broken down by initial enrollment intensity and control of institution of origin; subsequent enrollment outcomes, including the completion rates at both the institution of origin and destination institution; and insight and future recommendations from the authors.

Suggested Citation: Hossler, D., Shapiro, D., Dundar, A., Ziskin, M., Chen, J., Zerquera, D., & Torres, V. (2012, July). Reverse transfer: A national view of student mobility from four-year to two-year institutions (Signature Report No.3). Herndon, VA: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.