Tracking students’ progress through the core curriculum can help community colleges improve success rates for students who hope to earn a bachelor’s degree, suggests a new Community College Research Center report.
About 70 percent of community colleges say they want to transfer to earn a four-year degree. Most never make it.
Researchers analyzed data from community colleges in two states with different transfer policies.
State A requires a 42-credit general education core curriculum. All core courses are transferable, but transfers aren’t guaranteed junior status, even if they’ve earned an associate degree. In State B, a 36-credit core is required and statewide articulation agreements guarantee junior standing for transfer students who’ve earned an associate degree.
Over five years, 29 percent of students at College B completed the 36-unit core; only 12 percent completed the 42-unit core at College A.
After five years, students who completed the core were much more likely to complete a degree compared to those who completed most of the requirements (30-41 credits at College A and 30-35 credits at College B).
For example, while only 8 percent of students who accumulated 30-41 credits at College A earned an award at their community college and/or at the four-year college to which they transferred, 54 percent of students who completed the core did so. The corresponding results for College B are 17 percent (for those who accumulated 30-35 credits) and 70 percent (for those who completed the core).
Encouraging near-completers to earn an associate degree before transferring would boost success rates, the study advises.
Students were most likely to meet social sciences requirements and struggled the most to earn math and science credits.