Transfer Students are Declining

Why? And What is USF Doing About it?

For the last five years, USF’s incoming transfer student population has been gradually declining. In 2014, there were a total of 439 transfer students, domestic and international combined. This year, there are 350.

What’s going on?

Vice Provost for Strategic Enrollment Michael Beseda suspects that much of the decline is due to former Gov. Jerry Brown’s efforts to push California public universities to intake transfer students. Brown increased the budget in 2013 for public universities in the state as an incentive, resulting in a $5.8 billion increase in funding for the University of California (UC), California State University (CSU), and the California Community College System.

Now, with UCs and CSUs intaking more transfers from growing California community colleges, Beseda said these students might shift away from private four-year universities for the time being.

Brown’s plan has been successful so far. In July 2018, The Daily Californian reported that the UC system saw an all-time high for transfer students in the 2018-19 admissions cycle, with incoming transfer students up by eight percent across their universities. Meanwhile, the CSU system reported that nearly 93 percent of transfer students in their system came from California community colleges.

“The decline [of incoming transfer students at USF] was not because we aimed to go lower,” Beseda said. “It was because of these competitive pressures [from public universities]. We have been really working this year to do better and to bring [the number] back to 400. That’s our goal.”

Each year, two-thirds of USF’s incoming transfer students are from California community colleges, while one-third are from other four-year universities. The students tend to enter with an average of two academic years under their belts.

Members of the USF admissions team have been using social media to recruit more transfers. Jonathan Rice and April Crabtree, who both work in admissions, have been travelling to California community colleges to “be more present [in those institutions] and other kind of transfer venues,” Beseda said.

The admissions office also designed and sent out a nine page pamphlet to prospective transfer students. “It’s easy to jump right into campus life,” the pamphlet says. “Yes, even for transfer students.”

Beseda said that at the California community colleges, USF representatives are trying to answer a major logistical question for transfer students: when will they be able to graduate?

“We are putting in place mechanisms to do a better job of letting transfer students know how their courses will transfer and which of them might fulfill major requirements,” Beseda said. “That’s really what [transfer students] want to know.”

Beseda spoke on behalf of Crabtree and Rice since they were at a conference in Florida.

Junior Gerry Gutierrez just transferred to USF this semester and plans on majoring in accounting. He said that the University offers a lot of resources and assistance, which is what helped him make his decision. “From family tours to student orientations, I’ve never felt more at home in an unfamiliar city,” Gutierrez said.

“I am the happiest I’ve ever been since I’ve moved up here and started school.”


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