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WELS baseline survey of transfers, WELS, WELS baseline, WELS baseline surveys, Transfers, baseline, baseline survey, baseline surveys, transfer surveys, transfer baseline, new students, previous college, engagement, college application process, Skills, goals, expectations, major choice, major declaration, declaration, expenses, employment, demographics, transfer demographics


The WELS Baseline Survey of Transfers Entering Western in the Fall, 2010 (Transfer Survey) is the companion survey to the Office of Survey Research’s (OSR) survey of incoming freshmen. Together, these surveys elicit information from students prior to the start of their Western academic careers and provide an initial contact in a longitudinal survey design that follows students through graduation and into their initial years as alumni. The Transfer Survey is designed with three purposes in mind: (1) to provide baseline observations of students prior to their Western experience which can be used to forecast and enhance student success; (2) to provide data that can assist university assessment and accreditation endeavors; and (3) to assess student needs based upon their self-reported characteristics, perceptions and concerns. To accomplish these purposes, the Transfer Survey integrates questions into seven major sections: previous collegiate experiences, the college application process, familiarity and comfort with Western, academic skills and expectations, major choice and declaration, expenses and employment, and demographics. The questions on the transfer survey are a mixture of openended, numerical, and multiple choice types. This report lists all questions and reports basic descriptive statistics from questions which lend themselves to numerical analysis. Responses to open ended questions are available upon request. OSR initially conducted the Transfer Survey using e-mail invitations sent during July. Reminder e-mail invitations were sent to non-respondents at both their internal e-mail address and any external e-mail address Western obtained. Non-respondents to these e-mails were then called by OSR and asked to complete the survey. This process continued through August and the survey was finally closed the weekend prior to the beginning of fall quarter. Of the 1,047 transfer students entering in the fall of 2010, OSR received responses from 614, , a response rate of 58.6%. As with any survey, readers should be concerned with sample selection bias; that is bias which arises because survey respondents are not a random selection of the population of survey recipients. While sample selection bias on the Transfer Survey is mitigated through proper survey techniques and a high response rate, its presence should be considered when evaluating data. Section A of this document compares respondents to all incoming transfer students. Relative to all transfers, respondents were more likely to be female (61.7% of respondents versus 58% of all transfers), were more likely to be first generation college students (39.6% versus 35.6%), were more likely to be Washington State residents (91.4% versus 82.4%), and were slightly more likely to originate from a 2-year schools (84% versus 82.2%). On the other hand, respondents and non-respondents had nearly identical SAT scores (both math and verbal), admission indices, age, hours transferred to WWU, and fall quarter 2010 hours registered at Western. OSR is excited to share survey data and results with campus researchers so they may address their own questions. To familiarize readers with the content of the survey, we make a few observations regarding the survey results. Out of 16 potential responses, the three most likely to be listed as “very important” in their decision to attend Western, students listed a specific program at Western, Western’s good academic reputation, and the recreational opportunities in the area. These were the same three as listed on the 2009 transfer survey. Transfer students were most likely to first learn about Western through parents, relatives and friends. About two-thirds of students learned about Western prior to graduating high school, one-third learned about Western after graduation. Easily, the most used source in obtaining information about Western is Western’s website. The median transfer student applied to only one school (Western) while about one-fourth applied to two or more schools. Among all the schools to which they applied, 95% of all transfer students listed Western as their first choice of schools to attend. Among those students who registered for classes prior to completing the survey, 21% expressed some level of dissatisfaction with their schedule. The most common reasons given for the dissatisfaction were that their desired courses were full by the time they registered and classes were offered at conflicting times. Among a list of six areas of possible concern that might impact them over the coming year, transfers expected the most difficulty to occur when managing their finances. Forty-nine percent of students expect to borrow more than $5,000 during their first year alone and the average student expects to work over 17 hours per week while attending classes. The median transfer student expects to enroll at Western for 7 quarters prior to graduating although about onesixth of students expect to graduate after their 9th quarter on campus. Eighty-three percent of students expect to graduate from Western; however 17% expressed some level of likelihood that they would transfer from Western prior to earning a degree. Among these, the most common reason given for the likelihood of transferring is that Western does not offer a degree program that interests them. Seventy-four percent of students are certain as to their major and a further quarter of students have some idea. Indeed, three-quarters of students had met with a departmental advisor regarding a major and one-third had completed major paperwork at the time of the survey. All of OSR’s survey data is linked by a unique student identifier number allowing the longitudinal tracking of students through time. OSR is excited to share this data with interested researchers.




Digital object produced by Office of Survey Research, Western Washington University, and made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Transfer students--Washington (State)--Bellingham--Longitudinal studies; College students--Washington (State)--Bellingham--Longitudinal studies






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