Statistics on where and why Trinity students transfer


graphic by Liz Day, graphics editor

When students choose to transfer from Trinity to other schools, where do they go?

Eric Maloof, vice president for Enrollment Management in the admissions department, explained some data collected by Trinity’s Institutional Research and Effectiveness and the National Student Clearinghouse about students who transfer schools.

A cohort study of the class of 2020 found that of the 73 students who left after their fall 2017 semester, 51 students (70 percent) went to public institutions, seven students (10 percent) went to private institutions and 15 (20 percent) were not found by National Student Clearinghouse.

“The vast majority went public,” Maloof said.

The data showed that few students leave Trinity for a similarly accredited private liberal arts university.

Of the 58 students located by the National Student Clearinghouse — 51 who went to public institutions and seven who went to private institutions — 23 students (40 percent) went to two-year colleges and 35 students (60 percent) went to a four-year college. Of the 23 students who went from Trinity to a two-year college, 78 percent have been attending the institution for two or more semesters.

Texas State University at San Marcos and Austin Community College were the primary colleges Trinity students transferred to, with five out of the 58 transferring to each. Houston Community College received four transfers.

Of the 58 students that the National Student Clearinghouse could find, 48 stayed in Texas. The runner-up state was Florida, where two students transferred. Though there was no geographic trend for where students transfer, the data showed that students often move closer to their home state.

Maloof drew conclusions from the data.

“I would say that this data shows us that a good portion of our students who decide to transfer from Trinity after their first year are typically moving closer to home, the majority are going to public institutions, and [many] are going to community colleges,” Maloof said. “The good thing is that we track our students. We know that the vast majority of them ultimately end up graduating from college. And that’s really important to us.”

The results of the cohort study of 2020 were fairly consistent with the results of a cohort study that took place eight years ago, but these statistics may change in the future along with student demographics.

“Trinity has become a much more selective institution … We’ve gone from admitting one out of every two students to this year admitting almost one out of every three students. Each freshman class that we bring in is different from the last in measurable ways,” Maloof said. “Over the last few years, we’ve enrolled a higher percentage of students that are more apt to retain, persist, succeed and graduate here at Trinity.”

The National Student Clearinghouse study does not provide information such as the intended majors or grade point averages of students who leave. However, Michael Soto, associate vice president for Academic Affairs, is in the process of developing predictive analytics models that could potentially identify reasons why students might transfer or leave. Soto is responsible for improving the student retention rate, with a focus on increasing the rate of students who come back after their first year at Trinity.

Soto spoke about what the models might take into account.

“The most obvious variables have to do with registration information. What courses are students registering for? What combinations lead to the highest rates of difficulty? What grades are students receiving at mid semester and at the end of the semester?” Soto said.

Megan Kruse, Coordinator for Student Conduct and Special Projects, shared information on students’ reasons for leaving that the Dean of Students collects from students’ withdrawal forms.

“Of students who withdraw, about a third say the academic programs they want are unavailable. And then another third, a little under 30 percent, will say they want to be closer to home. They can check multiple boxes on the withdrawal form, so it could be any number of these factors,” Kruse said.

Richard Reams, associate director of Counseling Services, spoke about what his office does to assist students who are considering transferring.

“It’s usually not the main reason why a student comes, but it may be in the mix of their considerations, and so we would talk about the pros and cons of staying versus transferring,” Reams said. “We certainly will not try to persuade you to be here. We want a student to be where it’s a good fit for them.”

Reams spoke about reasons students give for transferring.

“In my 23 years here, the things that I remember hearing about include wanting to be closer to home, and that’s more important for some people than others,” Reams said. “Some want an academic program that we don’t offer. Some want to be at a different type of university — larger, or with a more active athletic scene with big games and football weekends. Some want a more intense arts scene, more arts majors. Some need a less expensive school, or a less academically rigorous school.”

While academic stress is often discussed at Trinity, Reams does not recall it being a student’s main reason to transfer.

“Obviously, the degree of academic rigor here might be a reason for some students to go to a place that isn’t as stressful academically. They might think that’s better for their mental health, not to be so stressed, but I can’t recall anyone saying that was a primary reason why they were looking to transfer,” Reams said.

First-year Alena Friedrich explained her decision to transfer to another university over email.

“Academically, I was really happy at a small liberal arts school,” Friedrich wrote. “But socially, I felt limited at Trinity due to what I perceived as a lack of student organizations, and I just didn’t really feel like San Antonio was the place for me.”

Friedrich is considering Denison University because of its larger campus and range of student organizations.

“I really like that Denison has a really large campus even though it’s in a fairly small town in Ohio, and from what I’ve read they’re known for having a lot of clubs on campus,” Friedrich wrote. “The other schools I’m looking at are on the West Coast — closer to my Seattle home — and also offer a lot of opportunities both on campus and in larger metropolitan cities like Los Angeles.”

Friedrich discussed her decision with her resident assistant and dean of students David Tuttle and found that they were supportive.

Students with questions about the transferring process can visit the Registrar’s office in Northrup 118. More information can also be found on the university’s website.