Two-year students less likely to get a bachelor's, but those who do, do well

Dive Brief:

  • New research examines the impact of starting at a two-year college on bachelor’s degree attainment, finding students who start at a community college are less likely to get a four-year degree, but when they do, their labor market outcomes are positive.
  • In a working paper from the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment, researchers write the community college pathway sharply reduces the likelihood of earning a bachelor’s degree but does not significantly impact short-term labor market performance for students.
  • Students who start at a two-year college and then transfer see similar attainment rates as their peers who started at four-year colleges, and because they earn as much in the labor market, the cheaper community college tuition leaves them better off, at least in the short-term.

Dive Insight:

The idea that relatively few students actually end up transferring is a problem student success groups across the country are trying to tackle. California is six years into a transfer initiative that allows community college students to earn an Associate Degree for Transfer, which comes with guaranteed admission to a California State University school with junior standing. While that initiative has been somewhat successful, advocates say schools could do better.

The Interstate Passport Initiative aims to give students who want to transfer out of state a smoother path to keeping all their credits. Member institutions agree on learning outcomes for lower-division general education courses and award junior standing to transfer students who come from schools with their own, agreed-upon blocks.

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Filed Under: Higher Ed
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