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What Stops Community College Students from Getting a Bachelor’s Degree?

Professor Alexandra Logue

More than 80 percent of community college students say they intend to pursue a bachelor’s degree, but after six years, only 17 percent earn one, according to Graduate Center Research Professor Alexandra Logue. And at CUNY, where 87 percent of community college students say their goal is a bachelor’s degree, she says that just 11 percent obtain it.

Logue and a team from CUNY were recently awarded a $550,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to study the factors that help or hinder community college students interested in the humanities from achieving their goal of a bachelor’s.

Logue’s co-principal investigators are Chet Jordan (PhD ’18, Urban Education), assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies at Guttman Community College, and Colin Chellman, university dean for institutional and policy research at CUNY.

“Little research has been done on the leaky transfer pipeline from community college to bachelor’s-degree receipt,” said Logue. “And a very small proportion of that little research has focused on students whose academic interests are in the humanities.” Previous analyses of the transition from community college to four-year institutions have focused most frequently on STEM students. Nationally, close to one third of all college students begin post-secondary studies at community colleges.

Prior studies have indicated that aspects of the college environment are responsible for the leaky pipeline, said Logue, who is optimistic that these obstacles can be removed.

The three-year grant begins this month. Research in the first year will focus on students at Guttman Community College, the newest community college in the CUNY system, which has an enrollment of about 1,000 students. In the second and third years, the researchers will expand their investigation to all seven CUNY community colleges.

The study will be completed in early 2022, but the team plans to disseminate their results on an ongoing basis, with their first set of findings expected in about a year.

“The purpose of this grant is to obtain information that will be useful to CUNY, and to institutions of higher education nationwide, in constructing interventions that will decrease the leaks in the pipeline from community college to bachelor’s-degree receipt,” Logue said.

Submitted on: JAN 14, 2019

Category: Faculty | General GC News | Psychology | Research Studies