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 explain themselves and can can show how they gain from all of their experiences in college to really be a productive and, ideally, you know, creative, innovative, problem solving well communicating member of whatever workforce they're entering into. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect e Tou podcast network. I'm Eric Olson with Helix Education and we're here today with Dr Benjamin Selznick, Assistant Professor at 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 our transfer students. Before we dig in,...

...can you give the listeners a little bit 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 here in the School of Strategic Leadership Studies, work primarily with doctoral students on my background is in the study of higher higher education, so I teach and do research on college student learning and development, mostly quantitative work, really trying to understand what works for which students and why during college love. It been to kick off this conversation today. Do you believe that transfer students are currently undervalued by employers? It's hard to say definitively right. There's a lot of different types of transfer students and there's a lot of different types of employers. I think the important thing to think about when you're looking and especially evaluating recent college graduates as if you're looking at the sum total of an individual by way of their interview and their CV and kind of what they've brought in, to not see transfer as a limitation. That's something...

...that we kind of have thought about and found an our our work kind of brought to light. But you know, we know that that employers get hundreds of, not thousands, of resumes and there's a quick screening process and you know, I can imagine a scenario where someone says, oh, well, there's a transfer student, they must not be committed, they must not be as interested, they must not have done the things, and some of our research, especially in this context of innovation, demonstrate that that's in fact not not true. And so I would encourage thinking about not necessarily undervaluing but certainly making sure that that's not seen as a 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 takeaways from your team's research on transfer students? So this is really interesting. So our work started out about two thousand and nine with Dr Matt Mayhew at Ohio State University, who's on the paper, and the May in question was really kind of to look at. Can you know, college develop innovators. So it started out as innovative entrepreneurs, and then when I came on the project around 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 year longitudinal 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 we wanted to find out was actually kind of how to college students develop as innovators over time, and we included transfer students in our study and what we found is that in this research, being a transfer student was positively predictive, very notably so, of being in kind of this group of students that we identified statistically kind of are on this growth trajectory. So they start out college kind of a bit higher on our innovation scale and then they really kind of go up dramatically. So it's interesting in this work is we included transfer students as a population of interest and we found out that they actually were a key group that was demonstrating high scores on the innovation measure and and high growth trajectories throughout college. Yeah, and when you see that data it's hard not to try to jump to your own theories and I'm...

I'm curious for yours and your team's been. Why do you think that transfer students seemed to in general, over index on that innovation scale? Yeah, we had a lot of really interesting conversations. Of course there's a rich work out there that focuses specifically on transfer students 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 into some of that work and we had a lot of interesting confrontations. I think the one that I kind of find found to be most interesting as it pertained to kind of our other work on innovation, is thinking that transfer students, for a 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've had to kind of plot a different course through college than the normal, you know, 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 a for 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. So we 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 prone to some kind of funk in cost fallacy. Right, they see the upside of quitting and they're like, well, this is not working for me, let me find a place that might work better for me. And they took that risk rather than stay. Well, this didn't work, but I've got to stick it out, you know, and that is those are characteristics, right, that we see in our other work on innovation as being kind of drivers of developing this kind of the innovation capacities. Is What we talked about it 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 they are their incoming hiring pool, reviewing a student transcript. They're seeing a couple of school transfers. They are translating that as a lack of commitment. They're concerned they might similarly have employee retention difficulties with its perspective hire. After reviewing your research, what do you hope they...

...would see instead when they look at that transcript? Yeah, I mean one thing I think about is hopefully transcripts and CVS lead to interviews. I was a career counselor back in the day and 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 comprehensive set of college experiences and, as indicated by transfer and other things, it's kind of thinking, we know what was going on there. Why did you do that, and not see it as like, well, why did you transfer? What was going on there? Right, but frame it as a positive like what brought you to that decision, like, you know, what did you have to like convince your friends or family, or did you choose a different way and and maybe use that to kind of tap into some of the 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'm an employer, I'd want to say, how can what you experience as a transfer student work for the purposes of our company, you know, or nonprofit or whatever we're hiring for. You know, really kind of see the value in that experience and use that as an...

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

...you learned in the classroom and apply it right. We see that as also being highly related to being a in the innovation 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 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 this great program for first years about innovation, maybe entrepreneurship, maybe social entrepreneurship, social innovation, all these great things, but you know, it's not really targeted at Juniors. How do you make sure students coming in with maybe some of these proclivities toward innovation are being directed to those resources and opportunities to maximize them during college? And then the second part of that is working with transfer students again, helping them think through that narrative, but also their own narrative in relation 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 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 as a learner, and so really trying to help students articulate this is part of their 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 and transferring into another one like that's something that happens, and so there's value and there's things that can be learned there. So again, making it not just what did you learn? Why did you transfer, but who argue through transferring and 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, you know, helping students kind of bring their pieces together of what they're learning and also their own personal identity and personal journey, growth, journey through college. I think that is really key. I think that's what employers like to see. If someone is aware of themselves, knows what they did, can explain themselves and can can show how they gain from all of their experiences in college to really be a productive and, ideally,...

...you know, creative, innovative, problem solving well communicating member of whatever workforce they're they're entering into. Fantastic advice been thank you so much for your time today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you? They have new follow up questions. Yeah, check out the James Madison University School of Strategic Leadership Studies. I have a faculty page on their my research is on Google scholar. We have this piece on Ed surge that I think was a genesis for some of this conversation and all those types and social I'm at Ben Selznick on twitter, so check it out there. And Yeah, awesome been. Thanks so much for joining us 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 educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent...

...brand new content on how institutions can solve 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. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the shown itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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