Dive Brief:

  • Students who primarily attend four-year colleges but take some courses at community colleges have better academic and labor market outcomes than those who don’t earn credits at two-year institutions, a new working paper suggests.
  • Researchers from the Community College Research Center found that students who enrolled in a four-year college but took as many as 10 credits at a two-year institution were more likely to earn a four-year diploma and have higher wages than four-year students who didn’t take community college classes.
  • The results suggest that enrolling in community college classes can benefit four-year college students without increasing their loan debt, the report notes.

Dive Insight:

While they may need guidance from an advisor so they don’t waste time or money on credits that don’t transfer, students at four-year institutions can benefit from taking community college classes in several ways, the researchers note.

For one, community colleges tend to schedule classes at more flexible times. Four-year students can potentially earn their degrees faster by taking courses at two-year schools that their primary college doesn’t offer every semester.

Community college courses also tend to be less expensive than comparable classes at public universities. This can help students take elective or prerequisite courses at a lower cost, potentially reducing the overall price of their education.

And supplemental enrollment can help underrepresented students accumulate STEM credits, the researchers found. While female, Black and Latinx students are usually underrepresented in STEM programs at four-year colleges, they’re overrepresented at community colleges, the researchers note.

“Four-year students from these subgroups may find community colleges to be a more academically supportive environment to earn STEM credits,” they write.

Read the full article on EducationDive.com.

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