Currently, community college readiness programs tend to focus almost exclusively on minimizing students’ academic barriers to success. However, this singular focus on academic barriers ignores students’ greatest barriers to completion.
EAB surveyed community college administrators across the country about students’ top reasons for dropping out or failing in their courses. The survey found that students’ greatest barriers to completion are noncognitive: the inability to finance education, the perception that coursework is disconnected from career goals, and the lack of a college support network. Toward the bottom of the list were academic barriers like the difficulty of introductory coursework.
Over the course of a few months, Forum researchers conducted interviews with over 50 students on member campuses to gather the student perspective on transition obstacles. The excerpts from these conversations on this page show the difficulties students faced when trying to navigate the college enrollment process alone. Completing financial aid forms, crafting a realistic academic plan, and confronting basic logistical questions alone were all cited as major barriers to their success. Without a support network to guide them, students made mistakes in the short-term that derailed their long-term goals.