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New Report Explores Factors Leading Community College Students to Earn a Credential

September 19, 2017

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Register Now for Oct. 5 Webinar on Findings

Now more than ever, a college education is vital for economic independence and upward mobility. And with over 45 percent of all undergraduates enrolled in a community college, these institutions will continue to be critically important in helping individuals achieve their education goals as well as meeting the labor-market needs of our nation. 

A new brief from ACE’s Center for Policy Research and Strategy (CPRS), Identifying Predictors of Credential Completion Among Beginning Community College Students, illuminates the factors that lead recent high school graduates who began their postsecondary education in a community college to earn a credential and offers recommendations to help increase students’ likelihood of doing so. The brief was produced with support from Hobsons.

The paper’s key findings are that earning a strong college GPA early on and completing more credits in the first year are the strongest overall predictors of postsecondary credential completion. A good high school GPA, earning dual-enrollment credits, and taking a college entrance exam before leaving high school were also found to be positive indicators. Women were more likely to graduate than men and in general, students with higher levels of socioeconomic status were more likely to earn a credential. 

The paper found that the frequency with which students met with an academic advisor was not associated with significant changes in the probability of earning a credential. This finding suggests a further need to examine and rethink advising and student support services.  

Drawing from the results of the study and previous research, the report also offers resources and several key recommendations for policy and practice. 

Hobsons and ACE will host a webinar on Oct. 5 at 2:00 p.m. EDT to review the findings and discuss strategies for students who enroll in community college directly after high school. The confirmed speakers are: 

  • Jonathan Turk, author and senior policy research analyst, CPRS
  • Ellen Wagner, vice president of research, Hobsons
  • David Schuler, superintendent, Township High School District 214 in Illinois

Click here for more information about the paper and to register for the webinar. 

The research brief analyzes data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, a nationally representative study that tracked students who began 10th grade in 2002 over a 10-year period. It is the second in a series about community college students by ACE and supported by Hobsons. The first paper, Improving the Odds: An Empirical Look at the Factors That Influence Upward Transfer, was released earlier this year. 


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