Date of Award

Summer 8-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)


Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

David M. Piper, D.Ed.

Second Advisor

Kelli Jo Kerry-Moran, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kelli R. Paquette, Ed.D.


This qualitative narrative research study explores the reasons that undergraduate transfer students make college and career planning decisions. The insights of community college students who expressed interest in completing a bachelor’s degree but did not enroll at a university were compared with the perspectives of university students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program who had successfully transferred from a community college. The student input was analyzed to determine if there were differences in their decision-making experiences. Sixteen undergraduate students enrolled at higher education institutions in Pennsylvania responded to open-ended questions related to choosing a college and degree major, navigating the transfer admissions process, and participating in extracurricular activities. The participants provided viewpoints for ways in which they engaged with academic advising and transfer student support services and the influences that motivated their decisions. The qualitative data analysis resulted in nine emergent themes related to community college transfer student decision-making. The study concludes with a discussion and recommendations for further investigation. Understanding the student decision-making experiences of community college transfer students provides fellow-students, parents, education leaders, and policymakers with insights to support student success.