‘Demographics Are Not Destiny’

There’s increasing public appetite for college accountability measures, but community college programs are a “complicated” case because factors such as the strength of local labor markets and the kinds of students the colleges serve also play a role in postcollege outcomes, said co-author Cody Christensen, a doctoral student in the leadership, policy and organizations department at Vanderbilt.

“It’s really complicated in the case of community colleges, because we ask community colleges to do two things: we ask them to be open access and we ask them to sort of either train students for a job or train them to transfer to a four-year school,” he said. “And oftentimes those goals are in tension, because being open access means you have to serve whatever students show up at your door, and sometimes those students are a harder population just to serve in general.” Continue reading.