Background/Context: This study contributes to the longstanding debate over whether community colleges democratize education or divert students from attaining a bachelor’s degree.
Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The objective of this study is to determine whether Hispanic students have a lower chance of earning a bachelor’s degree (B.A.) if they transfer from a community college.
Population/Participants/Subjects: This study uses the High School and Beyond Sophomore sample (HS&B/So) high school senior class of 1982 and the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS:88/2000) high school senior class of 1992 to compare the progress of two samples of “traditional” Hispanic transfer and Hispanic “rising junior” students. The final sample is composed of 220 students from the high school senior class of 1982 and 140 students from the high school senior class of 1992.
Research Design: Regression analysis is used to identify the effect of being a transfer student on B.A. attainment, after controlling for individual characteristics and institutional characteristics of the community college. Simulation analysis is used to identify the factors that affected B.A. attainment in the 1980s, which are used to predict B.A. rates a decade later.
Findings/Results: The results show that the negative impact of being a transfer student in the 1980s had disappeared within a decade. The results suggest that the relatively lower attainment rate of Hispanic transfer students is the result of individual characteristics and lack of academic preparation rather than institutional characteristics.
Conclusions/Recommendations: Although community colleges have the potential to be an alternative path toward a B.A., until transfer rates increase, Hispanics may be better off beginning their college education at a 4-year institution.