Less than 40% of students in community college graduate within six years





Less than 40% of students in community college graduate within six years

Higher education is a goal that many people would like to pursue after high school. The two most common options for college are either a two-year community college or four-year colleges. The choice between these two is determined by a variety of factors such as financial costs, time taken to complete a program, among others. Students who opt for community college are mostly motivated by the cheaper tuition fees. Many of these students join community college with the intention to transfer to a four-year institution afterward, but the majority of them do not achieve this dream. Some of the reasons why community colleges see low completion rates include inexperience of students, underfunded colleges, and financial constraints, among others.

When addressing the issue of completion rates in community colleges, the first issue to look at is the composition of students in these colleges. Historically, community colleges serve mainly students from minority and low-income groups within society. Research from the Brookings Institute shows that these colleges serve 43% of African Americans, 56% of Native Americans, 40% of Asian/Pacific Islanders. And 43% of Hispanics. In addition to being minorities, students from these groups are also likely to be from backgrounds with financial challenges. They choose community colleges because these two-year colleges are cheap compared to their two-year counterparts. According to data from the 2017-18 academic years, community college fees averaged $3570, while that of four-year colleges averaged $9970 (Levesque 1). Most students from low-income backgrounds, therefore, prefer to get into community colleges as their first step in higher education before proceeding to four-year colleges.

Community colleges have low completion rates among students, averaging less than 40% of all enrolled students within six years. There are many reasons for this. The first reason is that students from community colleges struggle with the financial costs of college. Although community college is comparatively cheaper, some students still have to struggle with costs associated with college, such as textbooks, upkeep, among others. Such students often have to work multiple jobs to afford all their needs while in college. Such situations leave them with very little time to study, and they end up not completing their programs on time. Some students also find that the costs of paying for college in addition to other costs, such as supporting their family prove to be too much, and they drop out of college.

Underfunded community colleges are another major reason for the low completion rates in community colleges. Because community colleges serve a unique group of students, they need to come up with programs and schedules tailored to their student population. However, community colleges have limited funds to implement such programs. The low tuition fees that students pay in these colleges leave little for the implementation of new programs for students. Some of the programs needed in community colleges include flexible and e-learning schedules, especially for students who have to work while attending college (McIntosh & Rouse 17). Some may not be able to make it to class according to schedule, and they should have other ways of accessing their learning materials. Unfortunately, community colleges receive very little funding at state and federal levels that would enable them to serve their students adequately.

Inexperienced students also contribute to low graduation and completion rates among students in community college. When students join college, they are often unprepared for the major decisions they will have to make. Examples of these decisions include what majors to take on, how and whether to transfer to four-year programs and which careers to pursue after graduation. Most students who graduate from high school and join community colleges often do not have a clear picture of what they want or the information they need. They then make decisions that may later prove unsuitable for them, and they end up dropping out of college or taking very long to complete their programs (Juszkiewicz 29). College can be an overwhelming and frustrating experience without the necessary guidance.

There are also motivational barriers that hinder students from completing their community college programs in good time. When students join college, they might have a hard time connecting their education to their life goals and dreams. About 80% of students joining community college intend to transfer to a four-year college after completing their programs. However, only an astonishing 7% of them achieve this in less than six years (Chen 1). Students in community college are likely to experience different circumstances in their lives that make it difficult for them to complete their programs on time. A student without clear motivation and goals will often cave in the face of social, financial, and other constraints. Students should, therefore, have a clear goal when joining college to ensure that their programs align with their life goals.

In conclusion, community college is an integral part of the US higher education system. These colleges offer students a cheaper alternative to four-year colleges. Most of the students who attend community colleges come from minority and low-income groups. Community colleges see low rates of completion within six years, and this is a worrying trend. Some of the causes of this situation include financial strain, motivational barriers, underfunding of community colleges, and inexperienced students. These challenges should be addressed to make sure that most students who enroll in community colleges complete their programs and transfer to four-year institutions. Higher education is a ticket to a better life, especially for students in community college.

Works Cited

Chen, Grace. “The Minority Report: How Minority Students are Really Faring at Community Colleges.” Community College Review. 01 November 2018. www.communitycollegereview.com/blog/the-minority-report-how-minority-students-are-really-faring-at-community-collegesJuszkiewicz, Jolanta. “Trends in community college enrollment and completion data, 2017.” (2017).

Levesque, Elizabeth Mann. “Improving community college completion rates by addressing structural and motivational barriers.” Brookings. 8 October 2018. www.brookings.edu/research/community-college-completion-rates-structural-and-motivational-barriers/McIntosh, Molly F., and Cecilia Elena Rouse. “The other college: Retention and completion rates among two-year college students.” (2009).