Date of Award

Spring 4-15-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Doug DeVore

Second Advisor

Dr. Jalin Johnson

Third Advisor

Dr. Edward Bush


Purpose: It was the purpose of this study to identify and describe the perceived barriers that hindered California community college students from successful transfer to a four-year college or university and what services they perceived were needed to support the successful transfer to a four-year college or university.

Methodology: This qualitative, phenomenological study strove to understand the commonalities of the personal experiences of community college transfer students. In this study, the shared phenomena were the challenges experienced by these students when attempting to transfer to a four-year institution. Non-probability, purposeful snowball sampling was used to locate 12 participants in the southern California region. Semi-structured interviews were used to discover the perceptions of transfer students who were yet unable to transfer.

Findings: The findings from this research identified barriers experienced by transfer students, including not understanding the transfer process, bad advisement, the need to work while attending college, extended time from taking unnecessary classes, family commitments, and lack of confidence. Additional findings identified the services needed to help the transfer experience, as perceived by community college transfer students, which included better communications from the college to the student, early program and course advisement, more individualized advisement, and additional help for underrepresented students.

Conclusions: Based on these findings and the literature review, it was concluded that (1) community college transfer students need assistance along their path, (2) advisement on the community college campus was a vital instrument for transfer students, and (3) many transfer students were forced to manage competing priorities, which may affect their transfer experience.

Recommendations: It was recommended that community colleges implement and hold students accountable for a required, exhaustive new student orientation and purposeful advisement procedure. Through this orientation and advisement, the community college could provide better communications to all students with clear, accessible, and reliable information about the transfer process and requirements; provide greater access to counselors for required, enforced advisement by the first semester of enrollment; and provide better communications and support for working and underrepresented students.