Home Articles Reader Opinion Editorial Book Reviews Discussion Writers Guide About TCRecord
transparent 13
Topics
Discussion
Announcements

Catching Up in Community Colleges: Academic Preparation and Transfer to Four-Year Institutions


by Josipa Roksa & Juan Carlos Calcagno — 2010

Background/Context: Transfer from community colleges to four-year institutions remains a contentious issue in higher education, with proponents showing that students do indeed transfer to four-year institutions and opponents arguing that starting in community colleges hinders baccalaureate degree attainment. One particularly salient issue in this debate is academic preparation. Although virtually all studies of transfer control for academic preparation, there is a dearth of research focusing on whether and how academically unprepared students can catch up in higher education.

Research Questions: We address two research questions: To what extent do academically unprepared students transfer to four-year institutions? And, can successful completion of intermediate outcomes, such as passing college-level math and writing courses, meeting specific credit thresholds, and earning an associate’s degree, diminish the role of initial preparation and increase the probability of transfer?

Research Design: Using event history techniques, we estimate the likelihood of transfer from community colleges to four-year institutions. Analyses include 20,900 first-time degree-seeking students who enrolled in Florida community colleges in the fall of 1998. Student enrollment is tracked through the summer of 2003.

Results: Community colleges can indeed serve as an alternative road of access to four-year institutions, even for academically unprepared students: Almost 20% of students in our sample who entered community colleges unprepared for college-level work made the transition to four-year institutions. Moreover, we found that successful completion of intermediate outcomes, such as passing college-level math and writing courses, meeting specific credit thresholds, and earning an associate’s degree, enhances the probability of transfer. However, the ability of community colleges to mitigate the negative effects of inadequate academic preparation on transfer is limited; regardless of the intermediate outcome completed, academically unprepared students continued to lag substantially behind their more prepared counterparts.

Conclusion: Community colleges can serve as a democratizing force in higher education; however, their ability to overcome inadequate academic preparation with which some students enter higher education is limited. Improving academic preparation in K–12 is thus a crucial component of enhancing transfer.



To view the full-text for this article you must be signed-in with the appropropriate membership. Please review your options below:

Sign-in
Email:
Password:
Store a cookie on my computer that will allow me to skip this sign-in in the future.
Send me my password -- I can't remember it
 
Purchase this Article
Purchase Catching Up in Community Colleges: Academic Preparation and Transfer to Four-Year Institutions
Individual-Resource passes allow you to purchase access to resources one resource at a time. There are no recurring fees.
$12
Become a Member
Online Access
With this membership you receive online access to all of TCRecord's content. The introductory rate of $25 is available for a limited time.
$25
Print and Online Access
With this membership you receive the print journal and free online access to all of TCRecord's content.
$210


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 112 Number 1, 2010, p. 260-288
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15831, Date Accessed: 10/23/2017 6:40:37 PM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review
Article Tools
Related Articles

Related Discussion
 
Post a Comment | Read All

About the Author
  • Josipa Roksa
    University of Virginia
    E-mail Author
    JOSIPA ROKSA is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on understanding inequality in access and attainment in higher education, and in particular how social contexts shape student outcomes. Prof. Roksa’s research on community colleges has been published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Review of Higher Education, and Research in Social Stratification and Mobility. She is also conducting studies examining inequality in cognitive growth in higher education and the patterns and consequences of employment during college.
  • Juan Carlos Calcagno
    Community College Research Center, Columbia University
    JUAN CARLOS CALCAGNO is senior research associate at the Community College Research Center, Columbia University. His research interests include the transition from high school to college and postsecondary access and attainment from both student and institutional perspectives. His previous studies on the college experience of older community college students have been published in Research in Higher Education and Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. His current research includes evaluations of programs and policies on remediation, dual enrollment, affirmative action, and financial aid.
Member Center
In Print
This Month's Issue

Submit
EMAIL

Twitter

RSS