Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EDD)


Educational and Psychological Studies (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Debbiesiu L. Lee

Second Committee Member

Carol-Anne Phekoo

Third Committee Member

Soyeon Ahn

Fourth Committee Member

Nam Ju Kim


This qualitative case study explored the experiences of transfer student as they transition into a small, private, religiously affiliated university. Three theories informed the foundation of transfer student experiences in this study, including Schlossberg’s (1984) Transition Theory, Tinto’s (1987), Theory of Student Departure, and Bean and Metzner’s (1985) Conceptual Model of Nontraditional Student Attrition. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine transfer students to assess their perceptions of transitioning into a small, private, and religiously affiliated university. During the interview, students were also asked to discuss how their experiences at the prior institutions influenced their perceptions of their transition. Grounded theory methodology was employed to analyze the data. Five themes arose from the data that captured transfer student’s experiences and their transition to the current institution. The themes included: campus engagement, flexibility, resources, stress, and size. Institutional size was indentified as impacting each of the other four themes. Institutional size was seen as a hindering factor by creating stress for the students, or an opportunity to become committed to the institution, if it resolved a concern. The implications of these results assist higher education professionals in enrollment services, advising and retention services, and student affairs at small, at private, religiously affiliated institutions in creating opportunities to help transfer students with their transition.


transfer students; transition experiences; private university; religious university