Students who start community college after they have turned 25 often struggle to stay enrolled. Such students generally earn better grades than their younger classmates, but jobs, family obligations, and financial burdens make them less likely to persist in their studies. For adult students who must begin college with remedial-reading courses that are not for credit, the odds are even longer.
But some of those students do persist, and Rosemary Capps says colleges could learn lessons from their tenacity. For her 2010 University of Utah dissertation, which won an award this past weekend at the American Educational Research Association’s meeting in New Orleans, Ms. Capps studied the lives of nine enduring students at an unnamed community college in the West. The students—six of whom were older than 25—were assigned to a developmental-reading class in the fall of 2008, and stayed enrolled at the college at least through 2009, even as many of their classmates dropped out.
Ms. Capps, who is now an academic developer at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of California at Davis, spoke to The Chronicle last week.