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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

It helps to aim high

So far, there are 28 comments on last week’s post about charges that community college placement tests are a “segregation machine” pushing blacks and Latinos to dead-end, no-credit, remedial courses. That’s a lot for any post, but remarkable during the holiday season.

Nearly 70 percent of high school graduates enroll in college in the fall, writes Jeffrey Selingo in the Washington Post. But many never complete a degree. Starting at a four-year university rather than a community college raises completion odds for “academically marginal” students, according to a new College Board study. 

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The study compared Georgia students who scored just above or just below the 830 SAT cut-off for admission to state universities. Of those who squeaked into state universities, about half completed a bachelor’s degree in six years. Of the very similar students who just missed 830, many of whom enrolled in community colleges, only 17 percent did so.

Aiming high doesn’t guarantee success, but it works a lot better than the alternative. researchers concluded.

Graduation rates are low at community colleges, but not as dismal as previously thought, adds Selingo.

Only 20 percent of full-time, first-time community college students graduate from their original college within three years, the Education Department reports. However a  new study, that includes part-time, returning and transfer students, found that 60 percent of community college students graduate or transfer to a four-year college within eight years. Those who transfer may not complete a degree, but they’re not dropouts.

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