Upwardly Mobile: The Transition from 2-to-4 year Institutions

In our previous blog post, we reviewed statewide trends related to transfer cohorts from two-year to four-year institutions, as approximately one-third of academic majors starting at community colleges transfer to public universities in Texas within 6 years of first-time enrollment. This blog post will look at “enrollment funnel” data, tracking community college transfer students from application-to-enrollment across the various public four-year universities in Texas.

Enrollment Count (Statewide)

  • As can be seen in the first visualization below, more than 91% of the 30,602 community college students (unduplicated data) who applied for admission to public universities in Texas in fall 2021 were admitted. From those who received admission, more than 21,000 of them (or 76%) enrolled in fall 2021 statewide. 
  • Approximately 50% of all community college transfer students (duplicated data) applied to the group of “Emerging Research” institutions (Texas State University, Texas Tech University, University of Texas at Arlington, University of Texas at Dallas, University of Texas at El Paso, University of Texas at San Antonio, University of Houston, and University of North Texas). These institutions collectively admitted and enrolled almost 51% of all community college transfers to public universities in Texas.
  • The two “Research” institutions (Texas A&M University and University of Texas at Austin) had the lowest number of applications and admission rate at 47%, but had the highest enrollment rate of 86% in fall 2021

Enrollment Count (Universities)

  • There were five universities that enrolled at least 1,400 community college transfers in fall 2021: UH (1,859), UNT (1,711), UT Arlington (1,575), Texas State (1,484), and UTSA (1,415). These five universities accounted for 38% of all of the community college transfers that enrolled at public universities in fall 2021.
  • The UT System campuses led all public university systems with over 30% of all applicants, admits, and enrollments of community college transfers in fall 2021. The A&M System and the UH System were second and third respectively in the enrollment funnel metrics, as TAMUS received 19% of all applications, admitted 18% of all admits, and enrolled 19% of all community college transfers, with UHS at 15% of total applications, 16% of total admissions, and 16% of total enrollments of community college transfers.
  • The A&M System held 5 of the top 6 positions in terms of converting admissions to enrollments, a positive metric of recruiting success: Texas A&M University (88%), Texas A&M University-Central Texas (80%), West Texas A&M University (80%), and Texas A&M International University (79%) were the first four universities, followed by UT Austin (78%) in fifth and Texas A&M University-Texarkana (75%) in sixth.
NOTE: Hovering over each bar will show additional data related to the “enrollment funnel” of community college students who transfer to public four-year universities in Texas

So What?

While this blog post focused on community college transfers to public universities in Texas, expanding our data lens to include total “first-time transfers” provides more context to the discussion. In fall 2021, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) reported that 49,063 first-time transfers enrolled in public universities in the state. In the first visualization above, we can see that 21,249 of those first-time transfers were from public community colleges in Texas. This means that 43% of first-time transfers in fall 2021 took what is typically considered the “traditional” transfer pathway of going from a 2-year to a 4-year institution. However, this also means that 57% of these first-time transfers took some other path, with the vast majority of those transfers most likely occurring between 4-year institutions. As an industry of higher education, we need to be sure we are not forgetting about the majority of transfers moving from one university to another as we discuss, plan, and adopt policies and programs to support our students who transition between and among our many public institutions in Texas

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