Sheri Rodriguez

Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership


College of Education

First Advisor

Kerrigan, Monica


Transfer students


Community College Education Administration


The purpose of this constructivist grounded theory study was to explore community college transfer student identity, development, and engagement at four-year institutions due to the lack of literature in these areas. Relational maps and interview questions were crafted as part of the research design to explore meaning making, painting a holistic picture of the population's experiences at four-year institutions and taking into account the intersections between identity, development, and engagement. Twenty five (n=25) participants were interviewed from two four-year institutions located on the eastern seaboard until data saturation was reached. Findings revealed three theories, suggesting that community college transfer students develop an alter ego, attempt to fit the entire four-year college experience in two years ("fitting four in two"), and use applicable engagement at their four-year institutions. These theories are the mechanisms that the population uses to cope with their feelings of conflict experienced at four-year institutions, leading to the desire for self-improvement over time. The results of this study are presented in two articles. Connections to the current literature, implications for policy, practice, and research, and the study's limitations are discussed throughout both articles.