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6 April 2014 No Comment

No more bad credit:
Colleges should work to ensure students can successfully transfer their community college credits

A recent study published in the Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis journal found many students who transfer from community colleges to four-year institutions do not earn bachelor’s degrees because of loss of credit. The researchers looked at transcripts of college students across the country and found only 58 percent of transfer students successfully kept more than 90 percent of their credits going into their new institutions. More than a quarter of transfer students lost 10 to 89 percent of their credits, and 14 percent lost almost all of their credits. Students who lost more than half of their credits were significantly less likely to graduate.

About 40 percent of all undergraduates in the United States currently attend a public community college, and about 80 percent of them say they intend to pursue a bachelor’s degree. There have always been disparities between the number of students who earn bachelor’s degrees if they start out at a four-year institution and the number who do starting at a community college. Experts have introduced different theories to explain this disparity — like financial aid discrepancies, inadequate academic rigor and excessive vocational emphasis — but this study offers conclusive evidence that the preceding factors have no effect, and that credit is the main culprit.

These findings are crucial at a time when the cost of a college education is rising, and student debt is being labeled a crisis. Attending a community college for two years is a way for low-income students who want to earn a bachelor’s degree to minimize or eliminate the debt they will have after they graduate. But if the inability to transfer credit leaves students having to start from scratch, the community college path is worth nothing. Students may have to stay at their new institutions for more than two years in order to earn all of their credits, and some may not be able to afford to do so.


Published March 21, 2014 in Opinion

By: Contributing Author

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