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 see, as someone is aware of themselves and knows what they did, can explainthemselves and can can show how they gain from all of their experiences in collegeto really be a productive and, ideally, you know, creative, innovative,problem solving well communicating member of whatever workforce they're entering into. You're listeningto enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for highereducation leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're lookingfor fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come tothe right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growthuniversity, a proud member of the connect e Tou podcast network. I'm EricOlson with Helix Education and we're here today with Dr Benjamin Selznick, Assistant Professorat James Madison University. been welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. Really excited to talk to you today about why employers maybe under valuing ourtransfer students. Before we dig in,...

...can you give the listeners a littlebit of background on both James Madison University and your rule? They're sure?My Name is Dr Ben Selznick, and I'm this, is a professor herein the School of Strategic Leadership Studies, work primarily with doctoral students on mybackground is in the study of higher higher education, so I teach and doresearch on college student learning and development, mostly quantitative work, really trying tounderstand what works for which students and why during college love. It been tokick off this conversation today. Do you believe that transfer students are currently undervaluedby employers? It's hard to say definitively right. There's a lot of differenttypes of transfer students and there's a lot of different types of employers. Ithink the important thing to think about when you're looking and especially evaluating recent collegegraduates as if you're looking at the sum total of an individual by way oftheir interview and their CV and kind of what they've brought in, to notsee transfer as a limitation. That's something...

...that we kind of have thought aboutand found an our our work kind of brought to light. But you know, we know that that employers get hundreds of, not thousands, of resumesand there's a quick screening process and you know, I can imagine a scenariowhere someone says, oh, well, there's a transfer student, they mustnot be committed, they must not be as interested, they must not havedone the things, and some of our research, especially in this context ofinnovation, demonstrate that that's in fact not not true. And so I wouldencourage thinking about not necessarily undervaluing but certainly making sure that that's not seen asa negative and in fact it can very well be a positive. Yeah,let's dig into your team's work here. What were some of the biggest takeawaysfrom your team's research on transfer students? So this is really interesting. Soour work started out about two thousand and nine with Dr Matt Mayhew at OhioState University, who's on the paper, and the May in question was reallykind of to look at. Can you know, college develop innovators. Soit started out as innovative entrepreneurs, and then when I came on the projectaround two thousand fifteen, two thousand and...

...sixteen, we switch to innovators broadly, and so we have this really nice set now of kind of four yearlongitudinal data students survey at the beginning of College, the end of college,if and of the first year and end of college. And so what wewanted to find out was actually kind of how to college students develop as innovatorsover time, and we included transfer students in our study and what we foundis that in this research, being a transfer student was positively predictive, verynotably so, of being in kind of this group of students that we identifiedstatistically kind of are on this growth trajectory. So they start out college kind ofa bit higher on our innovation scale and then they really kind of goup dramatically. So it's interesting in this work is we included transfer students asa population of interest and we found out that they actually were a key groupthat was demonstrating high scores on the innovation measure and and high growth trajectories throughoutcollege. Yeah, and when you see that data it's hard not to tryto jump to your own theories and I'm...

I'm curious for yours and your team'sbeen. Why do you think that transfer students seemed to in general, overindex on that innovation scale? Yeah, we had a lot of really interestingconversations. Of course there's a rich work out there that focuses specifically on transferstudents and there's experiences, there's great amount of quantitative work looking at for example, students transferring from community college into a four year institution. There's qualitative world, looking about student identities, and so for us we kind of looked intosome of that work and we had a lot of interesting confrontations. I thinkthe one that I kind of find found to be most interesting as it pertainedto kind 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 of had to take some kind of risk, or they'vehad to kind of plot a different course through college than the normal, youknow, traditional four year you go in, you do your course, worker out. They've had to do something different. So, whether it's transferring from afor two year to a four year or it's transferring between four your institutions, they had to take they had to...

...take some kind of risks. Sowe thought, well, maybe that is indicative of some propensity toward innovation.Another one that I kind of thought of we kind of liked as a group, was thinking about, you know, maybe they are kind of less proneto some kind of funk in cost fallacy. Right, they see the upside ofquitting and they're like, well, this is not working for me,let me find a place that might work better for me. And they tookthat risk rather than stay. Well, this didn't work, but I've gotto stick it out, you know, and that is those are characteristics,right, that we see in our other work on innovation as being kind ofdrivers of developing this kind of the innovation capacities. Is What we talked aboutit as in the research. Yeah, and you teased about this hypothetical earlier, but let's say there is an employer out there right now looking at theyare their incoming hiring pool, reviewing a student transcript. They're seeing a coupleof school transfers. They are translating that as a lack of commitment. They'reconcerned they might similarly have employee retention difficulties with its perspective hire. After reviewingyour research, what do you hope they...

...would see instead when they look atthat transcript? Yeah, I mean one thing I think about is hopefully transcriptsand CVS lead to interviews. I was a career counselor back in the dayand one thing would be interesting to kind of see is, you know,if you're looking for someone who's kind of had maybe a more complex and comprehensiveset of college experiences and, as indicated by transfer and other things, it'skind of thinking, we know what was going on there. Why did youdo that, and not see it as like, well, why did youtransfer? What was going on there? Right, but frame it as apositive like what brought you to that decision, like, you know, what didyou have to like convince your friends or family, or did you choosea different way and and maybe use that to kind of tap into some ofthe narrative behind that and really taking a kind of positive approach to it.What was that narrative? What did you learn from that narrative? If I'man employer, I'd want to say, how can what you experience as atransfer student work for the purposes of our company, you know, or nonprofitor whatever we're hiring for. You know, really kind of see the value inthat experience and use that as an...

...opportunity to really investigate the why studenttook that trajectory and how that trajectory itself right, was a form of learningthat students bring with them and carry with them out of college into the intothe workforce. I love that storytelling suggestion there, and so so let's closewith with that guidance for our listeners. Add institutions. Next Steps. Advicefor institutions who want to help their transfer students tell that story understanding their ownunique innovation skills they picked up along the way, through that curiosity, throughthat willingness to change, so they can better communicate that story too potential employersduring the hiring process. How should we facilitate that on our campuses? Yeah, the mid backup just one step. I think an important thing to recognizeis again not only the why of the transfer population, but our research iswould suggest that perhaps transfer students are coming to your institution so they can haveexposure to what we also found was important, you know, high quality out ofclass learning experiences where you take what...

...you learned in the classroom and applyit right. We see that as also being highly related to being a inthe innovation growth trajectory. And so one thing I would think is, firstoff, how do you ensure that these students, especially those that are comingin to engage in innovation, are aware of the many opportunities on your campus? Right, if the students coming in as a junior and you have thisgreat program for first years about innovation, maybe entrepreneurship, maybe social entrepreneurship,social innovation, all these great things, but you know, it's not reallytargeted at Juniors. How do you make sure students coming in with maybe someof these proclivities toward innovation are being directed to those resources and opportunities to maximizethem during college? And then the second part of that is working with transferstudents again, helping them think through that narrative, but also their own narrativein relation to going to college. Right. I think we, you know,we tend to say, well, there's the material and there's the studentand those things are kind of separate. And in fact what our work throughout, the work I do, really focuses...

...on is kind of, you know, learning partnerships, is seeing the student as a learner, the faculty asa learner, and so really trying to help students articulate this is part oftheir their learning trajectory through college. It's a part of who they are.You know, choices that they make, even failing out of a college andtransferring into another one like that's something that happens, and so there's value andthere's things that can be learned there. So again, making it not justwhat did you learn? Why did you transfer, but who argue through transferringand who argue if that kind of leads to innovation and these type of things? Who Argue as an innovator that might be reflected in that story, youknow, helping students kind of bring their pieces together of what they're learning andalso their own personal identity and personal journey, growth, journey through college. Ithink that is really key. I think that's what employers like to see. If someone is aware of themselves, knows what they did, can explainthemselves and can can show how they gain from all of their experiences in collegeto really be a productive and, ideally,...

...you know, creative, innovative,problem solving well communicating member of whatever workforce they're they're entering into. Fantasticadvice been thank you so much for your time today. What's the best placefor listeners to connect with you? They have new follow up questions. Yeah, check out the James Madison University School of Strategic Leadership Studies. I havea faculty page on their my research is on Google scholar. We have thispiece on Ed surge that I think was a genesis for some of this conversationand all those types and social I'm at Ben Selznick on twitter, so checkit out there. And Yeah, awesome been. Thanks so much for joiningus today. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educationsdata driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universitiesthrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second editionof their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent...

...brand new content on how institutions cansolve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. Toensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the shown itunes or yourfavorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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