Hannah Miller (PhD Candidate in Sociology) and Sara Goldrick-Rab, Ph.D.
Making Sense of Transitions: An Examination of Transfer among Economically Disadvantaged Undergraduates
At least one in three undergraduates attends more than one college, but we know little about how students decide to transfer. Most studies about transfer are retrospective, quantitative, and/or restricted to students who complete a transfer, thus missing the process through which students reach transfer decisions. In contrast, this mixed methods, longitudinal study prospectively examines a cohort of students across multiple colleges and universities over time. Based on data from more than 200 interviews with 50 students from low-income Wisconsin families, we find that about half of students consider transferring, but a substantial percentage ultimately decide to persist at their initial institution. Other studies have ignored the deliberation process—and existence—of this group. For all students who consider transfer, we illuminate a process of discussion and reflection that is shaped by social class and social capital.
Hannah Miller (PhD Candidate in Sociology University of Wisconsin-Madison) brings a sociological perspective to address applied questions in education research. Her primary research interests are educational and social policy; secondary and post-secondary achievement; children’s and families’ well-being; and gender, race, and class inequalities. She specializes in quantitative methods and enjoy working with data from a variety of sources, such as administrative records, experimental studies, and surveys.
Sara Goldrick-Rab, Ph.D. (@saragoldrickrab) is Professor of Educational Policy Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is also Senior Scholar at the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education and an affiliate of the Center for Financial Security, Institute for Research on Poverty, and the Consortium for Chicago School Research. Goldrick-Rab’s commitment to scholar-activism is evidenced by her broad profile of research and writing dissecting the intended and unintended consequences of the college-for-all movement in the United States. In more than a dozen experimental, longitudinal, and mixed-methods research projects, she has examined the efficacy and distributional implications of financial aid policies, welfare reform, transfer practices, and a range of interventions aimed at increasing college attainment among marginalized populations. Her academic articles have appeared in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Sociology of Education, Review of Educational Research, and Teachers College Record among other peer-reviewed outlets, and she also publishes regularly for broader audiences in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed, as well as on her blog The Education Optimists. This year, Harvard Education Press is releasing her latest book, Reinventing Student Aid for the 21st Century, co-edited with Andrew P. Kelly. In 2006, Goldrick-Rab was named a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation postdoctoral fellow, and in 2010 she received the five-year Faculty Scholars Award from the William T. Grant Foundation for her project, “Rethinking College Choice in America.” In 2014, the American Educational Research Association honored Goldrick-Rab with its Early Career Award. She provides extensive service to local, state, and national communities, working directly with governors and state legislators to craft policies to make college more affordable, collaborating with non-profit organizations seeking to examine the effects of their practices, and providing technical assistance to Congressional staff, think tanks, and membership organizations throughout Washington, DC. In spring 2013, Goldrick-Rab testified about her work on college affordability before the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Senators Tom Harkin and Lamar Alexander. In May of 2014, Goldrick-Rab became the founding director of the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, the nation’s first translational research laboratory aimed at identifying new and effective ways to minimize barriers to college completion so that more students can reach their full potential.