A “Moneyball” Approach to Hiring Undervalued Transfer Students

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Benjamin Selznick, Assistant Professor at James Madison University, joined the podcast to discuss why transferring may be a feature, not a bug, and why employers may be significantly undervaluing transfer students’ innovation capabilities.
 

Think that's what employers like to seeif someone is aware of themselves and know, is what they did can explainthemselves. I can can show how they gain from all of their experiences incollege, to really be a productive and, ideally you know creative innovativeproblem solving well communicating member of whatever workforce therethey're entering into you're listening to enrolment growth,university from helic education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow in Roman at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh and Roman growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources. You've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to enrolment growthuniversity, a proud member of the connect Edu podcast network, I'm EricOlsen with helic education and were here today with Doctor Benjamin SelskiAssistant, professor at James Madison University, then welcome to the show,thanks for having me, really excited to talk to today about why employers maybe undervaluing our transfer students.

But before we dig in, can you get thelisteners a little bit of background on both James Madison University and yourrule? There sure my name is Dr Ben Zelme, and I am an Sisa professor herein the School of strategic leadership. Studies work primarily with doctoralstudents, on my background, is in the study of I higher education, so I teachand do research on college student learning and development, mostlyquantitative, work, really trying to understand what works for whichstudents and why during college love. It then to kick off this conversationtoday. Do you believe that transfer students are currently undervalued byemployers, it's hard to say, definitively right, there's a lot ofdifferent types of transfer students and there's a lot of different types ofemployers? I think the important thing to think about when you're looking andespecially evaluating recent college graduates as if you're looking at thesum total of an individual by way of their interview and their V and kind ofwhat they've brought in to not see...

...transfer as a limitation. That'ssomething that we kind of have thought about and found and our work kind ofbrought to light. But you know we know that that employers get hundreds of notthousands of resumes and there's a quick screening process, and you know Ican imagine a scenario where someone says oh well, there's a transferstudent. They must not be committed, they must not be as interested. Theymust not have done the things and some of our research, especially in thiscontext of innovation, demonstrate that that's in fact not not true, and so Iwould encourage thinking about not necessarily undervaluing, but certainlymaking sure that that's not seen as a negative and in fact it can very wellbe a positive yeah. Let's dig into your teams work here what were some of thebiggest takeaways from your team's research on transfer students? So thisis really interesting. So our work started out about two thousand and nine,with Dr Matt Mayhew and Ohio State University who's on the paper and themain question was really kind of to look at an you know: College developinnovators, so it started out as innovative entrepreneurs and then, whenI came on the project around two...

...thousand and fifteen two thousand andsixteen and we switched to innovators, Brodley, and so we have this reallynice set now of kind of four year longitude data students surveyed at thebeginning of college, the end of college end of the first year and end ofcollege. That's what we wanted to find out was actually kind of how to collegestudents develop as innovators over time and we included transfer studentsin our study. And what we found is that in this research being a transferstudent was positively predicted, very notably so of being in kind of thisgroup of students that we identified statistically kind of are on thisgrowth projector. So they start out college kind of a bit higher on ourinnovation scale, and then they really kind of go up dramatically. So it'sinteresting in this work as we included transfer students as a population ofinterest, and we found out that they actually were a key group that wasdemonstrating high scores on the innovation measure and high growthtrajectories throughout college yeah. When you see that data it's hard not totry to jump to your own theories and...

I'm curious for yours and your teamsBen, why do you think that transfer students seem to in general over indexon that innovation, scale? Yeah? We had a lot of really interestingconversations. Of course, there's a rich work out there that focusesspecifically on transfer students and there's experiences, there's a greatamount of quantitative work, looking at, for example, students transferring fromcommunity college and to a four year in station, there's qualitative worldlooking about student identities, and so for us we kind of looked into someof that work and we had a lot of interesting confrontations. I think theone that I kind of find found to be most interesting as it pertained tokind of our other work on. Innovation is thinking that transfer students fora number of reasons have kind of had to make a switch right, they've kind ofhad to take some kind of risk or they've had to kind of Po a differentcourse through college than the normal. You know traditional four year you goin you do your course. Work you're out they've had to do something different,so whether it's transferring from a four two year to a four year or it'stransferring between for your...

...institutions they had to take. They hadto take some kind of risk, so we thought well. Maybe that is indicativeof some propensity toward innovation. Another one that I kind of thought ofwe kind of liked. As a group was thinking about you know, maybe they arekind of less prone to some kind of Sulken cost fallacy right. They see theupside of quitting and they were like well, this is not working for me. Letme find a place that might work better for me and they took that risk ratherthan stay. Well, this didn't work, but I've got to stick it out. You know- andthat is those are characteristics right- that we see in our other work oninnovation as being kind of drivers of developing this kind of theseinnovation capacities is what we talk about it as in the research and youteased about this hypothetical earlier. But let's say there is an employer outthere right now, looking at their their incoming hiring poolreviewing a student transcript they're, seeing a couple of school transfers,they're translating that as a lack of commitment, they're concerned, theymight similarly have employee retention difficulties with this perspective, ireafter reviewing your research, what do...

...you hope they would see? Instead whenthey look at that transcript yeah I mean one thing I think about ishopefully transcripts and CVS lead to interviews. I was a career counselorback in the day, and one thing I'd be interesting to kind of see, is you knowif you're looking for someone who's kind of pet may be more complex andcomprehensive set of college experiences and, as indicated bytransfer and other things, it's kind of thinking, you know what was going onthere. Why did you do that and not see it as like? Well, why did you transferwhat was going on there right but Framin as a positive like what broughtyou to that decision? Like you know, what did you have to like convince yourfriends or family, or did you choose a different way and maybe use that tokind of tap into some of the narrative behind that and really taking a kind ofpositive approach to it? What was that narrative? What did you learn from thatnarrative? If I'm an employer I'd want to say how can what you experience as atransfer student work for the purposes of our company, you know or are nonprofit or whatever we're hiring for you know really kind of see the value inthat experience and use that as an...

...opportunity to really investigate thewhy students took that trajectory and how that trajectory itself right was aform of learning that students bring with them and carry with them out ofcollege into the into the workforce. I love that storytelling suggestion there,and so so, let's close with with that guidance for our listeners adinstitutions, next steps advice for institutions whowant to help their transfer students tell that story, understanding theirown unique innovation skills. They picked up along the way through thatcuriosity through that willingness to change so that they can bettercommunicate that story to potential employers during the hiring process.How should we facilitate that it on our campuses, yeah the me back up Jos, onestep, I think an important thing to recognize is again not only the why ofthe transfer population, but our research is would suggest that perhapstransfer students are coming to your institution, so they can have exposureto what we also found was important.

You know high quality out of classlearning experiences where you take what you learn in the classroom andapply it right. We see that as also being highly related to being a in theinnovation growth trajectory, and so one thing I would think, is first off.How do you ensure that these students, especially those that are coming in toengage an innovation, are aware of the many opportunities on your campus rightif the students coming in as a junior- and you have this great program forFirst Years About Innovation? Maybe entrepreneurship may be social,atropine, ship, social innovation, all these great things, but you know it'snot really targeted at juniors. How do you make sure students coming in withmaybe some of these proclivities toward innovation are being directed to thoseresources and opportunities to maximize them during college, and then thesecond part of that is working with transfer students again helping them?You know think through that narrative, but also their own narrative inrelation to going to college right. I think we, you know we tend to say well,there's the material and there's the student and those things are kind ofseparate and in fact, what our work throughout the work I do really focuseson is kind of you know. Learning...

...partnerships as seeing the student is alearner. The faculty is a learner and so really trying to help studentsarticulate this is part of their learning trajectory through college.It's a part of who they are. You know choices that they may evenfailing out of a college and transferring into another one likethat's something that happens, and so there's value and there's things thatcan be learned there so again making it not just what did you learn? Why didyou transfer, but who are you through transferring and who are you if thatkind of leads to innovation and these type of things? Who are you as aninnovator that might be reflected in that story? You know helping studentskind of bring their pieces together of what they're, learning and also theirown personal identity and personal journey growth journey through college.I think that is really key. I think that's what employers like to see ifsomeone is aware of themselves and know, is what they did can explain themselvesand can can show how they gain from all of their experiences in college, toreally be a productive, and, ideally...

...you know creative innovative problem.Solving well communicating. Member of whatever work force there they'reentering into fantastic advice, an thank you so much for your time today.What's the best place for listeners to connect with you if they have anyfollow up questions, yeah check out the James Madison University SchoolStrategic Leadership Studies- I have a faculty page on there. My research ison Google scholar. We have this piece on edge surge that I think, was agenesis for some of this conversation and all those texts and social I'm atBen Selenic on twitter, so check it out there and yeah awesome. Then thanks somuch for joining us today. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciateit attracting today's new post, traditional learners means adopting newenrollment strategies. helic educations data driven enterprise, wide approachto enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universitiesthrive in this new education, landscape and Helix has just published the secondedition of their enrollment growth...

...playbook, with fifty percent brand newcontent on how institutions can solve today's most pressing and romant growthchallenges download it today for free at Helic Education Com play book, you've been listening to enrolmentgrowth university from he licks education to ensure that you never missan episode subscribe to the show in Itunes were your favorite podcastplayer. Thank you so much for listening until next time.

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