Nearly half of community college students eventually earn a bachelor's degree, study finds

Among community college graduates, 41% eventually earn a bachelor's degree, reports a new study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

The center analyzed 575,067 community college students who graduated with an associate degree between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011. 

According to the study, the closer a student is to traditional student age, the more likely he or she is to earn bachelor's degree by the six-year mark. While 65% of community college graduates go on to enroll in a four-year institution, it's the youngest group of graduates, who were 20 years or under, that were most likely to graduate from those institutions and complete their bachelor's degree, reports Paul Fain for Inside Higher Ed.

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For example, the study finds 62% of community college graduates aged 20 and younger earned a bachelor's degree, compared with 42.9% of students between ages 20 and 24. Students over age 24 fared even worse in four-year colleges, notes Pat Donachie for Education Dive; only 32% of these students earned bachelor's degree within six years.  

According to Donachie, community college graduates as a whole pose an attractive applicant pool for four-year institutions because the students have previous college experience and may not need remedial instruction.

Higher ed administrators should focus on growing the 57.7% of students over the age of 24 who enroll for their bachelor's degree, argues Donachie. To build stronger articulation agreements with community colleges, he recommends investing in alumni networks and reframing courses as an opportunity to build upon community college credentials (Donachie, Education Dive, 8/14; Fain, Inside Higher Ed, 8/14). 

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