60 Percent of Community College Students Transfer, Attain Bachelor Degrees

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Community colleges are increasingly emerging as a feasible alternative to getting a degree. A survey of students at community colleges nationwide found that 60 percent of students who transfer go on to eventually attain bachelor degrees.

The findings, which were announced by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, illustrate the viability of community colleges as a substantive pathway to completing a full four-year degree.

“The results will help students, institutions and policymakers to better understand the different pathways to college success,” stated Dr. Doug Shapiro, executive director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “The majority of students who transfer from a two‐year to a four‐year institution are successful, but pre‐transfer degrees, destination institutions, timing of transfer and enrollment intensity are all important factors in completion.”

The survey found that the most popular transfer destination is a public university (73%) compared to the 20% of students who transfer to a private, nonprofit university and 8% who transfer to a private for-profit college.

Once students transferred, though, the study found significant differences in the type of enrollment pursued. More than half of transfer students engaged in mixed enrollment, meaning they took a full-time course load in some semesters, and were part-time students in others. Roughly a third of students (37 percent) enrolled exclusively full-time and only 8.4 percent of students enrolled part-time.

Post-graduate findings also highlighted strong points for a community college pathway to bachelor degree completion. Within six years of the transfer, 62 percent of students completed their coursework at a four-year institution. There was also only a five percentage point difference between degree completions at a four-year private institution (60 percent) vs. a four-year public institution (65 percent).

However, researchers found that students who transferred from a two-year college with either a certificate or associate’s degree, were much more likely to graduate with a bachelor’s degree than those who transferred without completing the two-year degree/certificate.

By the sixth year mark, the study found that the 72 percent of students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree had previously completed a two-year degree or certificate. Comparatively, 56 percent of students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree did so without earning an associate’s degree or certificate.

Researchers believe that the differences in graduation rate between the two-year degree versus non-degree transfers could be reflective of degree students being able to apply a greater quantity of courses to the bachelor’s degree, thus allowing them to graduate sooner. Researchers call it a “smoothing of pathways via articulation agreements between two-year and four-year institutions.”

The study further highlights the need for better partnership between community colleges and universities in the transfer process as well as community college administrators promoting degree completion among its students before they transfer to four-year institutions.

As students seek to pursue high quality post-secondary education at affordable rates, community colleges are poised to develop greater pathways to bachelor degree status.

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  1. Louie Dalesandro Community Colleges are a very good institution for reasons of affordability, more overall reaching out of availability to the average "realistic" person that wants to go to college. (When I say realistic, I mean not pertaining to the average 4 year university student lifestyle for continuing students that had just graduated high school and don't necessarily require the time and effort for working a side job/have financial issues/family issues of non financial support/other family issues/other...ect.) Therefore, community college is also "realistic" in broad terms for lesser sub topic specified reasons such as giving a person a second chance from when they didn't show strong grades in high school, giving older adults a second chance for making other non scholastic life choices after graduating high school, ability to work well more so with people dealing with other life responsibilities such as a job, family issues, typically being near where a person lives ect. What I could see change is that community colleges offering a complete 4 year college degree like to the equivalent of about a Cal State education lets say, not necessarily to be be seen as/rated as to the equivalent of a State University or a UC, but still I don't see any problem with a community college being 4 year college. Also, while the current universities would still offer the average 4 year bachelors degree program so to speak, they could change more so in the focus for a masters or doctorates years of continuation in catering to future 4 year community colleges.
  2. Louie Dalesandro Community Colleges are a very good institution for reasons of affordability, more overall reaching out of availability to the average "realistic" person that wants to go to college. (When I say realistic, I mean not pertaining to the average 4 year university student lifestyle for continuing students that had just graduated high school and don't necessarily require the time and effort for working a side job/have financial issues/family issues of non financial support/other family issues/other...ect.) Therefore, community college is also "realistic" in broad terms for lesser sub topic specified reasons such as giving a person a second chance from when they didn't show strong grades in high school, giving older adults a second chance for making other non scholastic life choices after graduating high school, ability to work well more so with people dealing with other life responsibilities such as a job, family issues, typically being near where a person lives ect...but the problem with community colleges is that counselors, no matter how good many of them may strive to be, are still not that effective where as they could have more constant communication with students as for one idea that I could think such as by contacting the students after each semester lets say and asking them where they're at in their goals/letting them know whats changing as far as university requirements, so forth and so on...(you don't want two years turning into 10+ years like with me) and come to find out my "specialized interests" or "narrow interests" so to speak which were never learned from college, but outside of college rather which even further more makes me less and less interested/unwilling/don't want to waist time/mind goes elsewhere from wanting to be distracted by college. Furthermore, you could have community college become 4 year colleges like to the equivalent of about a Cal State college education lets say, not necessarily to be be seen as/rated as to the equivalent of a State University or a UC college, but still I don't see any problem with a community college being a 4 year college.
  3. Sara Sara Sara Absolutely! With the outrageous costs for higher education Community College is a great resource, I would never have been able to afford school if I didn't have acces to a JC.
  4. Sara Sara Sara Absolutely! With the outrageous costs for higher education Community College is a great resource, I would never have been able to afford school if I didn't have acces to a JC.
  5. Civility in American Politics Many 4-year schools don't have that high a retention rate for freshmen. Good for Community College!
  6. Civility in American Politics Many 4-year schools don't have that high a retention rate for freshmen. Good for Community College!
  7. Pennie Von Bergen Wessels of course!! Both my husband, a physician, and me, a lawyer spent our first two years at a community college -- I am a BIG proponent.
  8. Pennie Von Bergen Wessels of course!! Both my husband, a physician, and me, a lawyer spent our first two years at a community college -- I am a BIG proponent.
  9. Michael Higham It is a bit higher than some UC campuses: http://ivn.us/progress-report/2013/04/24/ca-incentive-to-graduate-in-four-years-a-students-perspective/ I'm glad to be part of that 60% tho :)
  10. Kelly Petty According to the study it is, Alex. They did a breakout analysis eight years from the date of transfer and found that 74 percent of students who transferred to four year institutions graduated with a bachelor's degree compared to 63 percent of those who entered straight into a four year college. Additionally, the results saw a higher percentage of straight 4-year students either not completing a degree or still in school.
10 comments
Louie Dalesandro
Louie Dalesandro

Community Colleges are a very good institution for reasons of affordability, more overall reaching out of availability to the average "realistic" person that wants to go to college. (When I say realistic, I mean not pertaining to the average 4 year university student lifestyle for continuing students that had just graduated high school and don't necessarily require the time and effort for working a side job/have financial issues/family issues of non financial support/other family issues/other...ect.) Therefore, community college is also "realistic" in broad terms for lesser sub topic specified reasons such as giving a person a second chance from when they didn't show strong grades in high school, giving older adults a second chance for making other non scholastic life choices after graduating high school, ability to work well more so with people dealing with other life responsibilities such as a job, family issues, typically being near where a person lives ect...but the problem with community colleges is that counselors, no matter how good many of them may strive to be, are still not that effective where as they could have more constant communication with students as for one idea that I could think such as by contacting the students after each semester lets say and asking them where they're at in their goals/letting them know whats changing as far as university requirements, so forth and so on...(you don't want two years turning into 10+ years like with me) and come to find out my "specialized interests" or "narrow interests" so to speak which were never learned from college, but outside of college rather which even further more makes me less and less interested/unwilling/don't want to waist time/mind goes elsewhere from wanting to be distracted by college. Furthermore, you could have community college become 4 year colleges like to the equivalent of about a Cal State college education lets say, not necessarily to be be seen as/rated as to the equivalent of a State University or a UC college, but still I don't see any problem with a community college being a 4 year college.

Louie Dalesandro
Louie Dalesandro

Community Colleges are a very good institution for reasons of affordability, more overall reaching out of availability to the average "realistic" person that wants to go to college. (When I say realistic, I mean not pertaining to the average 4 year university student lifestyle for continuing students that had just graduated high school and don't necessarily require the time and effort for working a side job/have financial issues/family issues of non financial support/other family issues/other...ect.) Therefore, community college is also "realistic" in broad terms for lesser sub topic specified reasons such as giving a person a second chance from when they didn't show strong grades in high school, giving older adults a second chance for making other non scholastic life choices after graduating high school, ability to work well more so with people dealing with other life responsibilities such as a job, family issues, typically being near where a person lives ect. What I could see change is that community colleges offering a complete 4 year college degree like to the equivalent of about a Cal State education lets say, not necessarily to be be seen as/rated as to the equivalent of a State University or a UC, but still I don't see any problem with a community college being 4 year college. Also, while the current universities would still offer the average 4 year bachelors degree program so to speak, they could change more so in the focus for a masters or doctorates years of continuation in catering to future 4 year community colleges.

Sara Sara Sara
Sara Sara Sara

Absolutely! With the outrageous costs for higher education Community College is a great resource, I would never have been able to afford school if I didn't have acces to a JC.

Pennie Von Bergen Wessels
Pennie Von Bergen Wessels

of course!! Both my husband, a physician, and me, a lawyer spent our first two years at a community college -- I am a BIG proponent.

Bob Conner
Bob Conner

I wonder what percentage of this is a result of adults attaining education later in life? Community colleges are much easier to access for those who have been out of the scholastic world for awhile.

Alex Gauthier
Alex Gauthier

60%, i think that's higher than some 4 year university's graduation rates

Kelly Petty
Kelly Petty

Bob, The study did not compare ages, but I believe many of these students could be adults. I think access to continuing education and adult learning is crucial to moving the economy forward.

Kelly Petty
Kelly Petty

According to the study it is, Alex. They did a breakout analysis eight years from the date of transfer and found that 74 percent of students who transferred to four year institutions graduated with a bachelor's degree compared to 63 percent of those who entered straight into a four year college. Additionally, the results saw a higher percentage of straight 4-year students either not completing a degree or still in school.