Just one-third of students who started at community colleges transferred to four-year institutions, and fewer than half of those students earned a bachelor’s degree in six years, new research from a trio of organizations found.
That translated to just 16% of these community college students getting a bachelor’s degree in that time frame, according to reports released Wednesday from the Community College Research Center, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program and the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
The joint research examines first-time students who enrolled in community colleges in fall 2015.
The latest data shows little improvement over prior cohorts.
Community college entrants in 2007 had a bachelor’s degree attainment of 14% — meaning this level of degree completion has only climbed 2 percentage points for students who start at these institutions.
Some groups of students had even lower outcomes than the overall demographic.
For instance, just 11% of students from low-income neighborhoods transferred and got their bachelor’s diploma after starting at a community college. The same success is true for 9% of Black students and 13% of Hispanic students. Older students, defined as those ages 25 and over, showed only a 6% bachelor’s degree attainment rate.
“We hope that states, systems, college leaders, and practitioners see in this report a reason to improve those outcomes, to help more students from all backgrounds succeed in transferring and attaining the bachelor's degrees that will advance their knowledge and career prospects — while helping employers address their talent needs,” Tatiana Velasco, lead author of the reports and research associate at the Community College Research Center, said in a statement.
The reports make several recommendations aimed at bettering transfer practices and completion rates. They include expanding dual enrollment opportunities and encouraging students to earn their associate degrees before they go to four-year institutions.