Community colleges are lauded for their accessibility. Most two-year institutions have open admissions policies and comparably low tuition rates. However, the challenge lies not in admitting more students to community colleges, but in guiding more students through programs of study to credential completion.
A new paper from the Community College Research Center states that most community college students drop out before attaining a credential. The author, Davis Jenkins, attributes the low completion rates to a lack of clear goals; many students do not enter a college-level program of study and instead complete a less planned series of coursework.
According to Jenkinsâ€™ analysis, students who do not commit to a program of study within the first year of enrollment are less likely to earn a credential at all.
The study suggests a method that community colleges can use to track first-time student outcomes over a period of five years. Jenkins encourages community colleges to guide more students through programs of study to increase levels of credential completion.
The full paper, Get with the Program: Accelerating Community College Studentsâ€™ Entry into and Completion of Programs of Study, can be accessed here.