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From Application and Beyond: Tracking Aspirations, Motivations, Experiences, and Outcomes of Ontario’s Transfer Students

September 2019

Authors: Claire Henderson (Academica Group), Ursula McCloy (Seneca Polytechnic College)

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Executive Summary

It has been well established that different segments of the population are more or less likely to aspire to and attend college or university. In particular, students with disabilities, low income students, first generation students, students from rural communities, Indigenous students, and male students are less likely to attend university. These disparities in access are primarily a university issue, in that these groups are not generally underrepresented in colleges relative to the population. Based on these findings, it has been suggested that enhancing the college-to-university pathway may be a vehicle to reduce inequities in university access (Kerr, McCloy, Liu, 2010). The purpose of this study was to examine the profiles and pathways of college-to-university students in order to enhance our understanding of who is accessing this transfer pathway, and their unique needs and experiences. To do this, the motivations, experiences, and outcomes of four groups of Ontario students were examined: 1) College applicants who aspired to complete a 4-year degree; 2) College applicants who did not aspire to complete a 4-year degree; 3) University applicants with a completed college credential; and, 4) University applicants with no previous PSE. This study also contributes to the literature by offering insights into the factors that may contribute to the persistence and success of transfer students.


  • Student decisions, experiences, and outcomes
  • Program pathways, course transfer, and prior learning
  • Equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility
  • Indigenous
  • Public policy