Texas Community College Students Are Astoundingly Terrible at Finishing School

Every year, thousands of Texas high school graduates continue their educations at community colleges, but only a fraction --16.2 percent according to a recent study -- will ever go on to complete a four-year degree.

A number of factors contribute to such an abysmal college completion rate, most of which are fairly obvious. As a general rule, more academically accomplished students go straight to four-year universities. Some of those who don't get an associate's degree and go home. There's the struggle to pay for one's education which, even at two-year schools, can be tough. And then, there's work.

It's the latter factor that Florida State University Professor Toby J. Park homes in on in a recent study of 38,000 Texas community college students and their chances of graduating after "stopouts" or periods of non-enrollment.

He summarizes his findings in a handy flowchart:


The number of community college students who put their education on hold at least once, 96 percent, is staggering. The causes are complex, but Park discovers in the course of his data-crunching that, for every 1 percent increase in a student's wages at work, "we see a whopping 13 percent decrease in the odds of graduation."

See also: Vaccine Mandate Has Contributed to the Sharp Enrollment Drop at Texas Community Collegesem>

This makes some amount of sense. The more one makes without a degree, the less worthwhile it seems to slave away for one. Given the cavernous gap in the lifetime earnings of those with four-year degrees and those without, such thinking is short-sighted and, Park argues, needs to be addressed.

"The resounding message is one of 'work less and study more,' however, this is simply not an option for many community college students," Park says. "How could we improve student success with the understanding that many students are working?"

Park suggests that the answer, at least in part, is financial aid. Should be easy. Texas is always eager to pour more money into higher education.

(h/t Inside Higher Ed)

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Well considering they will let anyone into community college should prove why. I just graduated from brookhaven and in my speech class there were students who couldn't even speak proper English! They should just tell these poor souls to not waste their money and get whatever job they can- it's not like they'd survive a real college...

observist topcommenter

This is not surprising at all - Community College and Finishing School are totally different things.


By this logic if I tip only 15% instead of 20% it would induce more on the eight year plan to finish school. 

Problem solved.


This may shock you, not-Wilonsky, but lots of folks attend community college for  vocational training (certificates and associate degrees) and go onto careers that don't require 4 year degrees - nursing (known lots of folks who got 2-years nursing degrees and passed nursing exam), chefs, electricians, fashion industry, HVAC technicians, plumbers and pipefitters, airplane mechanics, and so on.

Not getting a four year degree isn't the key to failure. How many undergrads can't find a job these days?

Lots of people I know NEVER went to any college and are in successful careers. Why? Because while their high school classmates were getting fucked up drunk and a 4-year degree, the former were 4-years ahead on the career ladder.

Unless you are pursing a career that requires a 4-year (or more) degree, college is a waste of time. 

The focus that everyone needs a degree (and now even entry level corporate jobs require a degree to apply) is stupid.

And furthermore: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiRGRvE_Wqg

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter


It's the one thing they're correct about.

Although I'm certain it's accidental.


Look at similar studies from other states with similar racial makeup, and maybe you can tell us how republicans manage to force so many Hispanics to drop out.


Actually, none of what you claim is true, but I'm sure that somehow, evangelist republicans forced you to come up with it - just like they probably flattened your tires.


Samuel - couldn't agree more.  What's worse is that there are a BUNCH of folks who are doing nothing more than racking up unsecured debt (student loans) with no intention of finishing school.  Or they're going to sham schools, getting worthless degrees on state money.  We have enough middle managers and paper pushers! We need more people with marketable trades like the ones you mentioned.  Vo-tech and JCs are the key!  What we really need is more young people to 'get real' and go do it.    


@bvckvs @dsmallwood06 And so did some of my professors at a large university.  You start missing class, and the points start coming off.  Miss too many, and you fail.  


@bvckvs @doublecheese @dsmallwood06 Except that it isn't a way to pass students.  You misunderstand completely.  There is no attendance grade.  You don't get credit for showing up.  You just get docked on your final grade for not showing up.


Most car washes and oil-change facilities require math, psychology, and gender studies education to work there.

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