credential completion

Report: 7 recommendations for student success with credentials


Here's how to ensure community college students complete requirements for credentials that lead to success.

A healthy GPA and completing more credits during the first year of college are fairly strong predictors of community college credential completion, according to a new report from Hobsons and the American Council on Education (ACE).

The report is the second in a four-part series that examines how high school graduates fare when they enroll in community college directly after high school.

“Community colleges ensure millions of students each year have access to the benefits of postsecondary education,” said Jonathan Turk, senior policy research analyst with ACE’s Center for Policy Research and Strategy and the report’s author. “However, while access is important, it holds little value if students cannot complete their education. This series of work will hopefully continue to shed light on what can be done to reduce barriers to student success for this particular student population.”

The report, Identifying Predictors of Credential Completion Among Beginning Community College Students, found students who enrolled in community college within three months of high school graduation were almost 11 percent more likely to earn a credential than students who delayed enrollment.

(Next page: 7 recommendations for today’s education leaders and policymakers)

Students’ enrollment decisions also influence their likelihood of completing a certificate or degree program, according to the report. Both enrolling in an out-of-state community college or enrolling part-time significantly lowered the probability of earning a postsecondary credential. Students who enrolled part-time at any point in their career were almost 12 percent less likely to complete a certificate or degree than students who enrolled exclusively full-time.

The frequency with which students met with an academic advisor was not associated with significant changes in the probability of earning a credential, suggesting that new academic and student support models are needed to increase community college student success.

Women were more likely to earn a college credential than men, according to the report. In general, students with higher levels of socioeconomic status were more likely to earn a credential.

Direct-from-high school students who participated in extracurricular activities when first enrolled in community college were more likely to earn a credential.

The report also offers recommendations for policymakers and education leaders as they aim to improve credential completion for community college students:

1. Ensure students receive a high quality education prior to college
2. Reduce inequity in school funding and outcomes
3. Consider new academic and student support models to increase community
college student success
4. Continue strengthening the institutional research capacity at
community colleges
5. Adequately fund community colleges
6. Strengthen the Pell Grant program and expand need-based aid
7. Address systemic issues facing society through public policy

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Laura Ascione
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