Valuing my voice and taking charge: the role of self-authorship in transfer students' access, persistence, and graduation

Through a phenomenological approach, this study aims to identify the developmental experiences of transfer students as they moved in, through, and out of a university. The research techniques used in this study include focus groups and semi-structured interviews. Findings are derived from the narratives and experiences of seven transfer students from a university in the Central Valley of California. Data analysis revealed three main themes. First, transfer students were able to reframe their adversities in the family, institutional, and public spheres and engage in self-actualization. Second, transfer students’ process of self-actualization was based on the enactment of self-authoring practices aimed to sustain three self-shaping stages: reframing, establishing, and balancing the self. Third, transfer students engaged in three types of co-authoring experiences, reciprocity, mutuality, and transaction, that emphasized their initiative to create partnerships and sustain them through specific emotional contracts. The themes derived from this study illustrate how transfer students develop self-authorship before, during, and after their transfer process. The results of this study provide insights to understand the developmental journey of transfer students and the ways in which higher education institutions can create responsive programs and structures to serve this student subgroup.