When Employed Students Stumble: Community College Students Who Hold Jobs Are Less Likely to Finish School. What Are Institutions Doing to Increase Degree Completion?

By Jacobs, Joanne | University Business, November-December 2011 | Go to article overview

When Employed Students Stumble: Community College Students Who Hold Jobs Are Less Likely to Finish School. What Are Institutions Doing to Increase Degree Completion?


Jacobs, Joanne, University Business


WORKING ONE'S WAY THROUGH college is the norm for community college students: 85 percent work part- or full-time. With an average tuition bill of $2,713 a year, only 13 percent turn to student loans. But long work hours have a high cost, concludes a 2011 report by the College Board's Advocacy & Policy Center. Only 21 percent of first-time, full-time community college students complete a degree or certificate in three years. The six-year completion or transfer rate is 31 percent. Part-timers, who make up 59 percent of enrollment, do even worse.

Some students "should borrow more and work less to increase their chance of completing a degree," says report co-author Sandy Baum. "People who work 10 to 15 hours do OK," but as work hours increase, grades slide.

"The worst thing students can do is go part-time or work full time. Both drastically reduce their chance of completion," says Debbie Cochrane, a program director for The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS).

U.S. student debt has reached $1 trillion. New four-year graduates are struggling to find work and repay more than $24,000 on average in student loans. By contrast, only 5 percent of community college graduates owe more than $20,000 and most owe nothing. Is it really wise for people to quit their jobs and go into debt?

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

It depends, analysts say. Adults with skilled jobs shouldn't quit, says Judith Scott-Clayton, an assistant professor of economics and education and a researcher at the Community College Research Center at Teachers' College, Columbia University. But, "straight out of high school, when they're working entry-level jobs, it makes sense to work less, borrow more and complete a degree a year or two earlier," advises Scott-Clayton.

Most college drop-outs cite financial pressures--"I needed to go to work to make money" and "I just couldn't afford the tuition"--as their reason for leaving, concludes a 2009 Public Agenda study, "With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them." Drop-outs were half as likely as graduates to report receiving financial aid or scholarships. Six in 10 community college students surveyed were working more than 20 hours a week; a quarter worked more than 35 hours a week.

Full-time community college students are more likely to complete a degree or certificate, according to a six-year federal study. Only 3.3 percent of part-time community college students complete a bachelor's degree, compared to 22.5 percent of full-timers who started at community college. Associate degree completion rates climb from 13.6 percent for part-timers to 21.9 percent for full-time students.

The effect of working is not clear, says Mark Kantrowitz, who runs FinAid.org. Cutting back on work hours boosts degree completion rates, but has no effect on certificate completion. In fact, full-time workers are more likely to complete a certificate than students who are unemployed or working part time.

Work Less, Borrow More?

"The idea that encouraging part-time students to borrow more might lead to a reduction in work intensity which in turn will lead to a shift in enrollment status from part-time to full-time and thus an improvement in completion rates is certainly an attractive idea," but the "data just isn't all that convincing," says Kantrowitz. "Advising students to increase debt (as opposed to directly advising them to work less and enroll full-time) might not be effective in improving completion rates."

In addition, there's a risk that students will borrow too much.

"It's probably true that if community college people borrowed more, they'd probably see a modest increase in graduation rates," says Richard Vedder, an Ohio State economist who runs the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. But some will borrow and still not graduate, ending up with more debt and no degree. "Community college students are in much more precarious financial positions" than four-year students, Vedder warns. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

When Employed Students Stumble: Community College Students Who Hold Jobs Are Less Likely to Finish School. What Are Institutions Doing to Increase Degree Completion?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.