Community colleges helps students with grades

By Peter Brooks - Staff Reporter

Community college transfer students are more likely to graduate from universities than the students who start out there.

The Community and Technical Colleges group of the Washington State Board released a report in May of this year citing that 52 percent of bachelor's degree graduates in the class of 2016 were transfer students from community colleges.

According to a report by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University and the Aspen Institute, transfer students tend to have a clear advantage in graduating from universities nationally.

The research center rated Washington state's community and technical college system first in the nation for transfer students completing university bachelor's degrees.

Grade point averages were about the same as non-transfer students, with only differences of a tenth of a point across random majors.

The research center's report was conducted to increase the effectiveness of two to four-year college transfer in order to promote upward social mobility.

Among public, very selective, or higher socio-economic status four-year institutions, transfer students had better outcomes. But the degree of greater success also varied depending on what type of institution they transferred to.

Transfer students nationally had a 42 percent higher graduation rate at public institutions, a 31 percent higher rate at private nonprofit institutions, and 8 percent higher at for-profit institutions.

Outcomes varied remarkably by state according to the report, which requires more investigation by the research center.

Nationally, lower income students did not fare as well as higher income students in terms of graduating from universities after transferring. However, they had the same rate of graduation from community colleges.

"It's definitely a socioeconomic issue," said Dr. Steven Simpkins, a Highline faculty member in Nursing. "Students that transfer tend to have wealthier parents, and they're more capable to finish their education."

"Highline would likely be creating more graduates because of our support for non-traditional students," Simpkins said.

Siew Lai Lilley, director of the Transfer Center, said small classroom sizes and extensive support programs like TRiO are the most important reasons for transfer students doing better at universities.

"Our academic policy and advising programs help students feel supported and prepared, and raise their confidence to continue their education successfully," Lilley said.

Chantal Carrancho, the Career and Student Employment program manager concurred.

"Open-access resources definitely prepares them for university," Carrancho said.

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