Some College Dropouts Would Have Fared Better At Community College, Study Shows

Career College Central summary:

  • As community college enrollment continues to rise across the country and more innovative programs give students multiple paths to a degree, there are many opportunities for individuals to select the track that gives them the best odds for success. Recently, Erin Dunlop Velez of the American Institutes for Research set out to examine which college students drop out before graduating and what they could have done differently to earn a bachelor's degree. The report, titled "American's College Drop-Out Epidemic: Understanding the College Drop-Out Population," notes that 40% of full-time, four-year college students do not earn a degree within six years of entering a program.
  • For some students, personal and financial issues are the main reason they must drop out of a program. However, many of these instances could have been avoided had they chosen a different path to a degree, such as starting at a community college before transferring to a four-year institution.
  • "About 70% of four-year college dropouts have a higher predicted probability of success beginning at a four-year college," Dunlop Velez wrote in the report. "But for the other 30% of the sample, their predicted probability of bachelor's degree attainment would have been higher had they started at a two-year college. This is particularly true for first-generation college students, about 40% of which would have been more likely to earn a bachelor's degree had they begun at a two-year college."
  • The right course to a degree will vary from one person to another, but some may be better suited to beginning their higher education at a two-year institution. Saving money and maintaining a flexible schedule is a major advantage, especially for students who have to work while taking courses.
  • According to Inside Higher Ed, students with a strong local support network may also benefit from enrolling in a local two-year program. They can save money by living at home, and having family members who are supportive of their goals, even if they have not attended college themselves, can help students stay focused. Taking specialized courses in those years may also allow them to narrow down their field of study, selecting a program that they want to complete and earning a degree that will eventually help students land a job.

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