Community-College Degree Often Smooths the Path to a B.A.

Nearly three-quarters of the students who earned an associate degree and then moved to a four-year college graduated with a bachelor’s degree within four years of transferring, according to a “snapshot” report being released on Thursday by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

The report comes at a time of widespread national concern over low college-completion rates, at both two- and four-year colleges. And it bolsters arguments that the successful completion of a degree at a two-year college sets up transfer students for success later on.

Carrie B. Kisker, director of the Center for the Study of Community Colleges, a nonprofit research and policy center in Los Angeles, said the report was important for two reasons: “first, because it reinforces the importance of community colleges in increasing the number of bachelor’s degrees in America; and second, because it clearly demonstrates that earning an associate degree prior to transfer leads to greater baccalaureate attainment.”

She said the report also demonstrated the importance of tracking the outcomes of community-college graduates over a longer period of time.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center releases snapshot reports, which track college enrollment and transfer patterns, throughout the year, drawing on data supplied by more than 3,300 colleges and universities.

The research center examined what happened to students who transferred from two- to four-year colleges in three different academic years: 2005-6, 2006-7, and 2007-8. In each year, it found that about 60 percent of those students ended up with at least a bachelor’s degree within four years of transferring. An additional 12 percent of all transfer students were still enrolled in a four-year college but had not yet graduated in the final year of the study. <Read more.>

Via Katherine Mangan, The Chronicle of Higher Ed.