Quick exit from college

Most students start California community colleges with plans to transfer after two years and earn a four-year college degree. But 25 percent drop out by the end of the first semester and even more lower their academic sights, according to Beyond Access, a study by Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE). Some 40 percent return for second semester with their college aspirations intact. Furthermore, only about 40 percent of students who persist for a full year in community college eventually transfer to a four-year institution.

The study doesn’t include statistics on what percentage of students who do transfer go on to earn a four-year degree. Nationally, the figures are low. Overall, California spends $73,000 on undergraduate education for every student who earns a degree.

Not surprisingly, full-time students who don’t require remedial classes do the best. Asian-Americans have the highest grades and persistence rates by race and ethnicity, blacks the lowest.

Michael Kirst has more on College Puzzle.

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  1. Cardinal Fang says:

    I tried to read Beyond Access but it crashed my computer. The blurb says that of the students starting at community college intending to transfer, a majority drop out or change goals after one semester. That’s an amazing statement– over fifty percent of those community college students give up after one class.

    For those who can read Beyond Access, does it shed any light on why the students are giving up? Are they discovering that they’re woefully underprepared? Are finances a problem?

  2. Asian CC grades are greatly enhanced by their cheating networks. It would be interesting to see the results if we could somehow throw that into the equation. They also cheat in high school.

  3. A flip-side argument is that CCs provide a cheap weeding function. I suspect the university graduation rate of CC transfers (I was one) is quite high.

    One thing that does happen is that kids entering CCs and who discover they need two or three semesters of remedial classes just to start college-level work decide the vocational programs look awfully attractive. IMO, this isn’t a bad thing.

  4. BadaBing, you seem to have some sort of weird grudge against Asians. This isn’t the first time you’ve made that sort of wide generalization. As if black/white/Hispanic students don’t cheat? You think they’re somehow more moral? Please. Get over yourself.

  5. You’re setting up a false dichotomy.

    “Not cheating” != “morality”. “Not cheating” = “not caring”.

    The single biggest factor in getting As is doing homework. Not the learning that goes into homework, but just turning it in. Teachers weight grades heavily towards homework.

    Most kids understand that homework is a monumental waste of time. Kids who are under pressure to get As are more likely to do homework, and if they forgot or didn’t have time, to copy someone else’s homework. They are also more likely to google for essays and cobble them up into something to turn in.

    Thus, statistically, Asians and white females are almost certainly cheating more than white males, blacks, and Hispanics. That’s certainly my experience when I survey my students–I’ll just ask them how many have copied homework from a friend. Overwhelmingly, the kids raising their hands are white girls and Asians (both male and female).

    So it’s not about morality, but rather that *no one* takes homework seriously. Getting an A requires turning in homework, so the kids that care about getting As are more likely to cheat to turn in homework.

    While I don’t ask about it as much, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to hear that these same groups are more likely to cheat on tests on a regular basis.

    Your mistake is thinking that all kids with As really care about school. I’d say about 30% of them are genuinely bright. The rest are, for the most part, less intelligent than the kids getting Bs and even Cs in advanced classes who just don’t care about making the teacher happy.

    The book School of Dreams documents this behavior pretty thoroughly.

  6. Oh, and as to the dropout rate: we send an enormous number of functional illiterates to community college. The real question is how they were allowed to graduate.

    As for why some kids thrive, it’s pretty obvious to anyone who understands that the cc system is a feeder to the UCs. Some highly qualified kids who don’t get into Berkeley or UCLA go to a jc for two years and then transfer with ease.

    So if you’re asking why some kids do well and others flunk, it’s for the entirely obvious reason that they are coming from vastly different knowledge bases to start with. Community college is a tiered system: illiterates, vocational, and “didn’t need to be there in the first place”. The ones graduating are in the last group–which is, as Foobarista points out, why their graduation rates are high.

  7. JJ:

    I’ll try to get over myself, but I don’t think that will change the fact that Asians do more than their fair share of cheating. My Taiwanese roommates (sisters) of five years told me of the cheating that went on among Mandarin speakers in their CC classes and in their Cal State classes. We were very close, and I considered them as sisters, and they called me “brother.” It was an amazing story, and the irony is that the elder sister, who condemned the myriad cheaters along with her younger sibling, got caught cheating herself after having lifted test papers from a professor’s office during a conference. She wasn’t kicked out but put on academic probabion. I couldn’t believe it.

    You can rationalize it by saying that Asians are pushed by parents to get good grades more than other groups are. You can even say Asians lose status among their peers if they don’t maintain certain grades, and so push themselves more than people in other groups. Whichever way you cut it, the fact remains that Asians cheat a lot.

    Your post reminds me of what happened to a friend of mine who teaches math. He shared with one of his ed classes the problem he had with rampant Asian cheating in his AP Calculus class and was immediately called a racist. Some students laughed at him as if he had lost his mind.

    In high school, Hispanic, black and white students do not cheat nearly as much as the Asians because most of them don’t give a rip about getting A’s and maintaining a high GPA. They’re not as proficient at it either because they don’t care that much if they get caught.

    At the high school where I teach, two Asian valedictorians in two years were disqualified because of teacher petitions charging them with having cheated their way to the top. I don’t have a grudge against anybody, but the problem of Asian cheating is out there. I’ve been victimized by it myself, but that’s another story.

  8. AS a parent of a kid who’s trying to escape PCC, I can weigh in here. He can’t get all the classes he needs to transfer to a UC–and certainly not in 2 years. It’s so frustrating. Either the classes aren’t scheduled or they’re over subscribed, with no fair or equitable way to decide who gets to stay in the class.