Aspiration to Attainment: Understanding African American Community College Students Pathway to Successful Transfer Readiness

President Obama charged community colleges with a significant role in moving forward the nation’s college degree completion agenda. Community colleges offer a pathway to degree completion, which is transfer readiness. This qualitative study explored African American community college students’ perceptions of factors that contributed to transfer readiness. A strength-based approach was used for this study focusing upon capital, assets, institutional, and environmental best practices. Transformative–pragmatic philosophical perspectives and the theoretical underpinnings of Schlossberg, Waters and Goodman (1995) transition theory provided the framework for this study. The methodology consisted of an exploratory-descriptive design including student archival data, pre-questionnaire, and semi-structured interviews with 20 transfer ready African-American students (10 women and 10 men) enrolled at Santa Monica College during Fall 2015. Furthermore, the study sought to identify inclusive and equitable practices that support transfer readiness for African American community college students. Major findings included three non-cognitive strengths that AfricanAmerican community college students practiced, which included self-discipline “do or die mentality,” help seeking “investigative” skills, and self-motivation “resiliency.” Institutional agents, also known as transfer agents, such as instructional faculty and intrusive counseling faculty were critical to successful iv transfer preparation. Environmental influences were comprised of student lifelines-family support, peer support, high-touch ethnic base transfer program, Black Collegians, and Santa Monica College’s prestigious transfer culture, and diverse learning environment.


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