Now more than ever, a college education is vital for economic independence and upward mobility. According to Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce, 99 percent of all jobs created since the Great Recession have gone to those with education beyond the high school level (Carnevale, Jayasundera, and Gulish 2016). As the economy continues to recover and diversify, it is clear that more and more individuals will need education and training beyond the high school level.

The American Council on Education’s (ACE) Center for Policy Research and Strategy (CPRS), with support from Hobsons, released the second report in a series of four, exploring outcomes for recent high school graduates who begin their postsecondary education in a community college using data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002.

The new report, Identifying Predictors of Credential Completion Among Beginning Community College Students, explores the relationships between credential/degree completion and student demographics, academic preparation, educational aspirations, enrollment decisions, and college experiences. 

Some of the key findings include:

  • Earning a strong college GPA and completing more credits in the first year of college were the strongest overall predictors of postsecondary credential completion. 
  • Students who enrolled in community college within three months of graduating from high school were nearly 11 percent more likely to earn a credential than students who delayed their enrollment.
  • Both enrolling in an out-of-state community college or enrolling part-time significantly lowered the probability of earning a postsecondary credential. 
  • Students who enrolled part-time at any point in their career were nearly 12 percent less likely to complete a certificate or degree than students who enrolled exclusively full-time.

We'll be hosting a free webinar on Oct. 5, at 2:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. PT to discuss the report, its key findings, and recommendations for policymakers and education leaders to consider in order to improve community college completion rates. Click here to learn more details and to register.

The first study, Improving the Odds: An Empirical Look at the Factors That Influence Upward Transferwas released in April 2017.

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