Date of Award

Summer 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies

First Advisor

Christian K. Anderson


Today’s college student has a wide variety of enrollment choices and is increasingly choosing different routes to degree completion. The purpose of this research is to understand the experiences of students who attend multiple universities (more than two) during their undergraduate enrollment to better understand the reasons behind their decisions. Nine students participated and shared their college journey. Using narrative inquiry to analyze their interviews, their unique stories through higher education unfold and provide insight into how these students could be better helped on campus. Schlossberg’s (1981, 1984, 2011) transition theory and the 4 S System provided a theoretical framework to examine the coping factors used to navigate participants’ transitions from one institution to another.

The findings present more accurate pictures of the participants’ journeys through higher education. They suggest that the students successfully navigated transitions because of their self assets, such as personal commitments to completing a degree. Participants used transfer as a strategy to modify their situations. They would leave when their needs were unmet, or the institutional fit was not there. Additionally, the findings illustrate how much financial considerations impacted the participants’ situations.

These findings are significant because they support previous research, and this work contributes to the discussion of how to support students with complex college journeys. Institutions need to prepare to serve this type of student. Institutions should put students’ needs by living up to expectations, keeping promises made during recruitment, understanding the diverse needs of today’s students, and assisting them better in transferring.