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Community Colleges Playing a Larger Role in Bachelor’s Attainment

January 29, 2021

A recent survey from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics found that community college is playing a greater role in the educational trajectories of people with bachelor's degrees. Of employed graduates who received their first bachelor's degree before 2008, 48 percent previously attended a community college. Nineteen percent of those total bachelor’s degree holders had already earned an associate degree. But those numbers have increased. For employed people who received their first bachelor's degree between 2008 and 2017, 52 percent had previously attended community college. One-quarter had previously earned an associate degree.

A good portion of that increase appears to be on the part of women. After 2008, the share of employed women bachelor’s degree holders who previously attended community college went up five percentage points. Community college attendance among their male peers did not change significantly. Women were more likely than men to have previously attended community college and to have an associate degree.

Black, Hispanic and Asian students were more likely than their white counterparts to have attended community college, by up to 10 percentage points. Asian students, though, were equally as likely as white students to have earned an associate degree.

The 2019 National Survey on College Graduates examines the country’s college graduates, with a focus on those in science and engineering professions. The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics is part of the National Science Foundation.

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