An Uphill Battle for Employed Community College Students

Inside Higher Ed:

Increasing numbers of young Americans are choosing to enter postsecondary education through community colleges — but too many of them are having to work and attend part time and too few of them are leaving with degrees as a result, the think tank Demos argues in a report released Tuesday.

The report’s “highlights,” if you can call them that, have plenty of depressing numbers, but I thought the most telling one showed just how difficult it is to work and attend community college at the same time:

Surveys of students who have left college without earning a credential routinely cite employment and finances as the main reasons for student departure: one study found that nearly 40 percent of students who worked full time while enrolled dropped out within three years, compared to 19 percent of students who worked part time and 13 percent who did not work.

Since, as the study points out, research has shown that full-time enrollment and fewer than 15 hours a week of work is the optimal environment to complete a degree, it’s no wonder students working full time are at such a disadvantage.

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Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.