Research has shown that transferring between two institutions is no easy feat—especially for those starting at a community college.
Although transfer students make up nearly half of the undergraduate population, they face a number of barriers to success. Only 23% of community college students who intend to attain a bachelor’s degree successfully earn one within eight years.
But for many students, transferring colleges is a way to reach their full potential, writes Nancy Lee Sánchez for Forbes. Sánchez, the executive director of the Kaplan Educational Foundation, rounds up seven trail-blazing leaders who got their start as transfer students.
1. Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States, transferred from Occidental College to Columbia University. Sánchez points out that several other U.S. presidents and presidential candidates were also transfer students, including Woodrow Wilson, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Mitt Romney.
2. Eileen Collins, the first female pilot and first female commander of the Space Shuttle, started her college journey at a community college, writes Sánchez. Collins earned her associate degree from Corning Community College and then transferred to Syracuse University for her bachelor’s degree.
3. George Lucas, creator of Star Wars, first attended Modesto Junior College for anthropology. He later transferred to the University of Southern California to study cinematography.
4. Lucy Liu, an actress, director, and Asian-American trailblazer, transferred from New York University to the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor to earn a bachelor’s degree in Asian languages and culture.
5. Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, spent two years at the University of Pennsylvania‘s Wharton Business School before transferring to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
6. Stephen Colbert, a comedian and writer, began his college journey at Hampden-Sydney College and then transferred to Northwestern University to study performance.
7. Zora Neale Hurston, a writer best known for her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, transferred from Howard University to Barnard College, where she was the only black student, writes Sánchez (Sánchez, Forbes, 3/6).