Date of Graduation

Fall 12-15-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Organization and Leadership (O&L)


School of Education



First Advisor

Dr. Danfeng Soto-Vigil Koon

Second Advisor

Dr. Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales


Elite institutions have a long history of serving students from high socioeconomic status families. Transfer students who begin their college career at community colleges are typically from low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented minority status families. This population of students has historically been underrepresented at elite colleges. The purpose of this study was to examine the community college transfer student experience at two elite universities, one public and one private, and how institutional programs and structures affect the transfer student experience. The study gathered information from eight community college transfer students, four from each elite university, interviewed in one-on-one semi-structured interviews. Four university administrators, two from each university, were also interviewed to gather information on the transfer student experience from the institutional perspective. This study provides insight into the transfer student population and their particular needs. The study also identifies ways in which universities can create stronger programming and more inclusive systems for transfer students to enhance their university experience and the likelihood of their success at elite institutions.