Studies Show Only 41% of Community College Graduates Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

By Kyle Roque

        Inside Higher Ed reports that only 41% of community college graduates go on to obtain a bachelor’s degree within six years of graduating their two-year colleges.

        This data was reported by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC), after analyzing over 575,000 community college students (ones with no previous degrees or certificates) who graduated in 2011 – about 65% of students enrolled into four-year colleges within six years of graduating, though only 41% obtained a bachelor’s degree in that time.

        In the NSCRC’s recent term enrollment reports, data shows that national college enrollment for Spring 2017 semester has decreased 1.5% since Spring 2016. Enrollment for Fall 2016 was also down 1.4% since Fall 2015. There are many factors that contribute to low numbers of students continuing their higher education and obtaining degrees after graduating from two year schools. Among the many, finances and mental health are notable factors.

        Peers of mine that have dropped out of college indefinitely or have taken semesters off often have to do so for their mental health. College is a stressful part of life for many students; sometimes the hectic course loads and constant deadlines create too much pressure. It becomes hard to take care of yourself and maintain your daily life if you feel constantly overwhelmed.

At times continuing education isn’t the best option; for some, selecting a bachelor’s degree isn’t always the ticket to fulfilling goals and desires. Many people choose to work in order to gain work experience and move up the ladder or go to a trade school to specialize in the exact skills they need to achieve their goals.

The most notable reason, however, is financial. Some students decide to stop going to school because they simply cannot afford tuition fees while paying living expenses; it becomes a matter of working versus going to school, the former taking precedence in the present economy. College is expensive, even when financial aid is involved — it’s understandable why students would prefer to work over going to school. In some cases they have no choice.

        The push for free education is strong, however, and many community colleges across the country are now able to offer free tuition. Students can now focus on their education without having to worry about the financial stress. With free tuition, college registration will go up and perhaps the number of students graduating will too.

Illustration by Elena Stuart.
Illustration by Elena Stuart.

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