The Community College Pathway & Student Outcomes: Evidence from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002
Fuschillo, Alanna Lee
Wei, Thomas E
Over the past decade, postsecondary education has become essential to compete for a broader array of job opportunities. Over the same period, the cost of college has risen exponentially, creating financial barriers to entry. One mechanism identified to both make college more affordable and accessible is the use of two-year community colleges as a means towards earning a bachelor’s degree. I investigate the viability of the “community college transfer pathway” by examining the relationship between prior community college attendance and (1) the probability of obtaining a bachelor’s degree and (2) early career earnings. Using the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002’s data on college enrollment patterns, I compare successful two-year to four-year college transfers to a base group of students who opt to initially enroll in four-year institutions. The results indicate that students who successfully transfer from a two-year to a four-year college have a higher probability of obtaining a bachelor’s degree in eight years. However, the results also generally suggest that there is little practical difference in earnings for students who take different routes to a bachelor’s degree-granting institution.
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