Graduate Program

College Student Affairs

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion

Spring 2021

Thesis Director

Richard L. Roberts

Thesis Committee Member

Joshua L. Norman

Thesis Committee Member

Danessa Carter


Vertical transfer students, defined as those who transfer after graduating from a community college to a four-year university, are on the increase in the United States. While there are numerous studies on the logistical parts of transferring, there are fewer that have examined the adjustments and transitions that vertical transfer students face. This qualitative study utilized semi-structured interviews with vertical transfer students at a rural, mid-sized, Midwestern institution to understand these students' experiences. Another important area examined was how student affairs professionals can best assist vertical transfer students. Thematic material was analyzed through the lens of Schlossberg's (2011) transition theory. The results of the study suggests that vertical transfer students need specialized attention, strong communication from student affairs professionals, and less barriers when it comes to active involvement on-campus. The study concluded with a discussion on transitional barriers and meaningful ways student affairs professionals can assist with a successful transition.