For students attending four-year colleges and universities, taking certain courses at a community college may improve their academic and career outcomes, according to a new work document from Columbia University’s Community College Research Center (CCRC).
The authors of the article found that four-year students with 1-10 community college credits were almost 5% more likely to earn their bachelor’s degrees than those with no community college credits. Four-year-olds who took courses at a community college also earned more total credits and landed higher paying jobs.
“On average, additional enrollments are associated with more college credits earned, an increased likelihood of earning a bachelor’s degree, and higher hourly wages in the job market – without increasing student loan debt,” wrote the authors in their report.
And for some subgroups, including black college students, Latinx college students, low-income college students, and female college students, earning community college course credit has turned out to have added benefits.
For example, women who took community college courses were 4.5 percent more likely than their female counterparts who did not take community college courses to earn their bachelor’s degree. Low-income students who took community college courses earned 9.8 total college credits more than their counterparts. And black and Latin students who took courses at community colleges owed an average of $ 5,888 less in student loans.
The benefits of community college courses
There are a number of reasons why taking certain courses at a community college may benefit four-year students, especially those in certain subgroups.
The first, the authors explain, is that community colleges tend to offer more flexible hours, sometimes offering classes throughout the year. Students can get their bachelor’s degree faster by taking classes in the summer or outside of their traditional class schedule at their four-year institutions.
Second, courses at community colleges are often much cheaper than those at four-year institutions. Students can take prerequisite or elective courses at a cheaper overall price, which will lower the cost of their studies.
Additionally, the authors noted that community colleges, which tend to have small classes, can help under-represented students earn STEM credits.
For example, four-year students who took courses at community colleges were 6.2% more likely to obtain a STEM-related bachelor’s degree than their peers who did not take courses at community colleges. Low-income students were 11% more likely to obtain a STEM degree than their counterparts. And black and Latin students averaged 3.17 more STEM credits than their counterparts.
“The same subgroups of students who are under-represented in STEM programs – including female students, black and Latin students, and students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds – are over-represented in community colleges,” wrote writers. “Four-year students in these subgroups may find community colleges to be a more academically supportive environment to earn STEM credits. “
And because grades earned from transfer courses are typically not included in a student’s overall GPA, students may be more willing to take courses they perceive to be difficult, such as STEM courses, at colleges. two years instead.
Facilitate additional registration
Nearly one in five students in the United States earns community college credits, the authors explained. Considering the obvious advantages of combining two-year and four-year training, the process should be made easier for students.
“There are steps two- and four-year colleges can take to streamline the additional enrollment process for students,” the authors wrote. “For example, standardized course numbering at two- and four-year colleges and clear transferable credit policies are essential to preventing credit loss and creating an effective additional enrollment experience.”