- The number of college graduates who enroll in community college within two years of graduation has dropped below 6%, a 14-year low.
- Biological sciences, psychology and social science graduates were the top three groups of returning students in the past who sought specific credentials or professional licenses from community colleges after graduation.
- The trend suggests an increase in credentialing opportunities at four-year institutions, and a post-recession refocus on master's or doctoral education.
Four-year institutions are supplanting community colleges as the go-to institutions for licensure and professional credentialing, particularly in areas like nursing, public and allied health, and other majors popular among working adults. With the proliferation of online degree programs and for-profit schools specializing in industry-relevant fields, community colleges may lose a few students in this sector, but not many.
The federal government and several states are making community college enrollment more appealing and cost effective for families and for good reason — the return of manufacturing jobs to several states demands more low and mid-level workforce entry, instead of employees who will enter with upper and high-level management as a career trajectory. And with more adult learners likely to enter college over the next 10 years, the trends may only grow for two-year institutions.