Higher Education

Report: Community colleges are slowly improving student support

More interaction with advisors, instructors, are meant to push dropout rates down

Pressed to stop a steady trickle of dropouts that has kept their graduation rates low, community colleges are getting more up close and personal with their students, a new report says.

Students say they’re able to speak more often with advisors and instructors about their career plans, and that they’re being called upon more frequently to make presentations in class, according to the Community College Survey of Student Engagement.

Those kinds of things make students feel more connected to their colleges, but have been particularly tough to accomplish at community colleges that serve large numbers of students juggling work and families and who often go to school part time.

The result has been very low graduation rates. About one in five community college student earns a two-year associate’s degree within three years, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Fewer than 40 percent receive degrees from any institution within six years, the National Student Clearinghouse reports.

But adding human interaction seems to make a difference.

Now more likely to be asked to make a presentation in the classroom, the proportion of students who say they come to class unprepared has fallen 10 percentage points.

Changes like this suggest that things are moving in a positive direction, said Evelyn Waiwaiole, the center’s director.

“Colleges can design the student experience to require actions that improve engagement,” Waiwaiole says.

The proportion of community college students who say they never skip class, for instance, is up from 38 percent in 2004 to half today.

“That’s not accidental,” Waiwaiole says.

Letters

Jon Marcus

Jon Marcus, higher-education editor, has written about higher education for the Washington Post, USA Today, Time, the Boston Globe, Washington Monthly, is North America higher-education… See Archive

Letters to the Editor

Send us your thoughts

At The Hechinger Report, we publish thoughtful letters from readers that contribute to the ongoing discussion about the education topics we cover. Please read our guidelines for more information.

By submitting your name, you grant us permission to publish it with your letter. We will never publish your email. You must fill out all fields to submit a letter.





No letters have been published at this time.