5 ways to improve support for part-time students

Although community colleges have started to enroll more economically-disadvantaged students, those students are not graduating at rates comparable to their peers, according to an EAB whitepaper, Reframing the Question of Equity. What’s worse, they drop out and retain debt.

Community college students are increasingly diverse, and traditionally underrepresented student populations have increased. Gaps in college access and enrollment have started to shrink. But while underrepresented minorities are more likely to attend community colleges than their white peers, too few of them graduate, leaving gaping degree attainment gaps.

Many students now enrolling in community colleges are low-income and first-generation students–with those two risk factors, they are four times more likely to drop out after their first year.…Read More

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

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.…Read More