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Study Finds First-Year Students Who Take 15 Credits Succeed

June 30, 2016

The Community College Research Center at the Teachers College at Columbia University released a report today that says students who enroll in 15 credits' worth of classes in their first semester are more likely to graduate than those students who enroll with only 12 credits.

The report is based on findings from Tennessee college students and supports Compete College America's 15 to Finish initiative.

"Advisers think they're helping students by recommending that they ease into college and take fewer credits. This study finds that this strategy isn't doing students any favors," said Davis Jenkins, a senior research associate at CCRC and co-author of the report, in a news release. "Quite the opposite is true. Students who start slow don't pick up the pace later."

The report found that after two years, or six semesters, the typical community college student who started with a 15-credit load was 10 credits ahead of the typical student who started with 12 credits. Those students who started with 15 credits were no more likely to pass or fail their courses, according to the study.

There were also strong momentum gains for minority students, and the outcomes were stronger for students who sustained momentum through their first year.

According to CCA, seven states and 116 campuses have so far launched 15 to Finish initiatives.


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