Community colleges would serve us better preparing people for abundant "middle skilled" jobs, a task at which K-12 education has dismally failed because we don't want students to settle for realistic aspirations given their abilities.
42 — Percent of students who transferred from community colleges to four-year institutions who earned bachelor’s degrees.
32 — Percent of students who transferred out of Colorado community colleges into four-year institutions anywhere in the nation who earned bachelor’s degrees.
28 — Percent of students who transferred from community colleges anywhere in the United States to public, four-year institutions in Colorado who earned bachelor’s degrees.
23 — Percent of students who transferred from community colleges anywhere in the United States to private, nonprofit four-year institutions in Colorado who earned bachelor’s degrees.
38.7 — Percent of students, nationwide, who graduate from a higher education institution in four years, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education
30.3 — Percent of students in Colorado who graduate from a higher education institution in four years, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.From here. Hat tip to Colorado Public Radio.
Colorado community college graduates who transfer to four year programs are much less likely to earn bachelor's degrees than their counterparts elsewhere in the nation. But, transferee's from Colorado community colleges likelihood of graduating somewhere (32%) isn't much different from students who start college at a four year institution in Colorado (30.2%) (and I strongly suspect that almost all Colorado community college transferees go to Colorado four year institutions).
And, transferees from community colleges anywhere and transfer to Colorado's public four year institutions are less likely to graduate than the national average as well. This suggests that the problem in Colorado may be on the receiving end as well as the community college end. This is also suggested by the fact four year graduation rates are lower in Colorado than the national average.
Community college students who transfer to private four year institutions in Colorado are even less likely to graduate than those transferring to public colleges (unsurprisingly since the latter are usually more selective academically and hence geared to more academically able students on average).
The graduation rate for Colorado's community college transferees isn't great, but a lot of that is due to lower graduation rates in general at Colorado's four year institutions and the downsides of a much less expensive community college transfer to a public four year institution approach aren't decisive, particularly since these statistics don't adjust for the possibly different academic abilities upon graduating from high school of community college transfers and direct to four year college students respectively.
Also, the percentage of community college students who wash out rather than transferring, or who finish a two year program, but don't transfer, is very high. Peer pressure not to stay the course is significant in a way it would be for an academically able student going directly to a four year institution. The six year bachelor's degree graduate rate of people who start community college is unsurprisingly, much lower than among those who start in four year institutions.
About 1.6 million people earn a bachelor's degree in the U.S. in a given year and about 100,000 of those graduates community college transferees. So, only about 6% of bachelor's degree recipients took the community college transfer route. About 13% of people who start community college in a given year will ultimately earn a bachelor's degree.
A key question is how much of the economic benefit of higher education is due to sorting (for which college is a very expensive sorting tool) and how much is due to what one learns in one's program (something that is almost surely the case in STEM fields but is far less clear in other fields). For example, the economic prospects of people who earn two year degrees is only marginally different from those who attend some college but don't earn a degree.
The full community college transfer report is here.