An analysis of local Seattle-area community college success rates found that full-time students have much higher graduation rates.

community-collegeIn one of the first comprehensive looks at community-college-graduation rates for students from South King County (Wash.), one fact stood out: Full-time students graduated at a much higher rate than part-time ones.

That’s perhaps not surprising, but the importance of attending full time was a revelation for Mary Jean Ryan, who directs Community Center for Education Results (CCER), the group that wrote the study.

“If a student could simply go to community college full time, the rates of completion are staggeringly higher,” Ryan said.

And Ryan has hit on a novel proposal: Encourage businesses to help by giving students more predictable schedules, so they can more easily structure their jobs around their classes.

“A lot of employers are asking how they can help the young people of our region,” she said.

The study focuses on seven community and technical colleges — Bellevue, Green River and Highline colleges, Renton Technical College and the three campuses of the Seattle Colleges system (North, Central and South Seattle). Those colleges were chosen because 51 percent of college-going graduates in South King County’s class of 2011 enrolled in those schools.

Most college-completion reports don’t take such a detailed look at students from a specific region and examine how they fare after they get to college. And part-time students often are not counted, Ryan said.

(Next page: A deeper look at community college success factors)

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