Timing of Concentration, Completion, and Exit in Community Colleges
To develop policies aimed at increasing student success and institutional effectiveness, it is useful for colleges to understand when students reach significant academic milestones, what students do if they exit college before completion, and whether the timing of these events differs among students with different levels of academic preparedness. Research suggests that students who reach important milestones early in their college careers are more likely than others to achieve their education goals (Edgecombe, 2011). And knowing when particular kinds of students reach academic milestones (or when they exit college without attaining a degree) can shed light on common patterns of student progression (Moore and Shulock, 2009). This report examines how the timing of important events in community college student progression— reaching program concentration by earning nine college-level credits in a single area of study, completing a program of study, and exiting college prior to program completion—differs by students who upon entry to college are deemed college ready or are referred to developmental education in either one, two, or three subject areas. It also examines the timing of additional post-exit education outcomes of students who leave their first college prior to program completion. Using five years of course-level transcript data on 14,617 first-time-in-college students who in the 2005-06 academic year enrolled in one of eight community colleges across three different states, this descriptive analysis identifies in which term students at various levels of college preparedness reached program concentration, earned a degree or certificate, or exited college without completing a program. Students who entered community college as college ready in math, reading, and writing (16 percent of students in the sample) are compared to students who were referred to developmental education in one (32 percent), two (21 percent), or all three (31 percent) of those subject areas.
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