The Community College Research Center conducts research on a wide variety of issues affecting two-year colleges nationwide. As a route to higher education for well over a third (40%) of undergraduates in the U.S., community colleges are for many an important gateway to improved opportunities and earning potential. Their current research about student completion and transfer rates reveals a couple of interesting trends concerning students’ pathways through postsecondary education.
For example, although 80% of students who enter community college intend to transfer to a four-year program in order to complete a bachelor’s degree, only a quarter (25%) of them actually transfer within 5 years of starting school. In addition to this, while nearly three-quarters (72%) of transfers end up in public institutions, a disproportionate amount of minorities (Black and Hispanic) and under-performing students end up in for-profit colleges when they transfer, and are less likely to complete their bachelor’s degree.
A finding that may come as surprising is that it’s not the increased rigor and expectations of four-year programs that is the primary reason causing transfer students to stall, but rather the loss of credits due to transferring. With all of this said, the students who do transfer successfully reap pretty significant rewards, saving significant amounts of money on their lower division coursework and seeing essentially the same income benefits as four-year institution natives.
Since community colleges are such significant gateways to higher education for a large proportion of the country’s population, and especially the underserved, libraries at two-year institutions represent important points of contact that can help students gain the skills they need to achieve a degree, and the knowledge necessary for successful transfer. Additionally, libraries at four-year institutions should be aware of the difficulties transfers face, and should strive to meet the unique needs of this group.
Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.