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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Half of community college students meet career goals

Sixty percent of former community college students, surveyed 10 years later, said they enrolled primarily for career or personal reasons, and half met their goals, concludes a Strada Education survey. Of the 37 percent who said they'd been seeking a two-year degree, 58 percent were successful.

Less than half said their education strongly developed their communications, problem-solving and leadership skills.

Strada surveyed people who'd attended community college in the last 10 years, reports Hechinger's Olivia Sanchez. About 29 completed an associate degree, compared to the 36 percent completion rate reported in 2018. Another 15 percent transferred. Overall, 20 percent said they'd eventually completed a bachelor's degree.

The median annual salary for survey respondents was $48,000. While a slim majority of lower earners said community college was worth the cost, that rose to 73 percent of those earning between $48,001 and $75,000, and 76 percent of those earning over $75,000. First-generation students were less likely than others to say it was worth it, and Hispanic students were less satisfied than others.

Among those working full time, 58 percent of white community college alumni, 47 percent of Latinos and 35 percent of blacks earn more than $48,000 per year.

About 29 percent of all undergraduates attend community colleges, according to spring 2023 figures from the National Student Clearinghouse. On average, they are older than four-year college students and more likely to come from lower-income, less-educated families. Nearly all are working in part- or full-time jobs.

Thomas Brock, the director of the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, said students need help navigating the college system, writes Sanchez. "He said community colleges are still structured like cafeterias, where there are plenty of options but little information about what each option could lead to or what pathway might lead to the most financially secure future."

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