Could “learning communities” hold the key to part-time student retention?


Bunker Hill Community College has seen promising results by giving part-time students an opportunity to build connections with their peers

Only 37 percent of students who attend college part time earn a degree within six years, the nonprofit Center for American Progress (CAP) says. While student retention is a big issue for all colleges and universities, it’s especially challenging for community colleges, where three out of four students are enrolled part time. But an innovative approach taken by Bunker Hill Community College in Boston could encourage more part-time students to stay in school and finish their degree.

In the past, many student-retention efforts have focused on encouraging part-time students to take more credit hours per semester, so they can graduate sooner. But that’s not often possible for part-time students, many of whom have full-time jobs or other impediments to their education.

Bunker Hill Community College believes it has found an affordable way to improve part-time student retention by providing some important elements of a traditional college experience to students who often don’t get these, according to a CAP report. The college is doing this by extending its “learning community” model to part-time as well as full-time students.

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