Campus: CSU Sacramento -- May 24, 2004

Report warns of narrowing path from community college to bachelor’s degree

A new report by researchers at California State University, Sacramento offers stark details on an issue many college students understand from experience—how much tougher it’s getting to transfer from a community college to a four-year university and earn a bachelor’s degree.

Two-year students are being squeezed from all sides, the report says. Recent state budget cuts have reduced the number of available classes and led to tighter admission requirements to four-year universities. Fee hikes have made school more expensive. And a growing college-age population has increased the overall competition for a space in public two- and four-year institutions.

The report also notes that African American and Latino students are particularly affected because they are more likely to enroll in community colleges. As Latinos become an ever larger part of the state’s population, it says, the transfer problem could hurt California’s competitiveness.

The report was produced by Nancy Shulock and Colleen Moore at the CSUS Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy.

Titled “Diminishing Access to the Baccalaureate Through Transfer,” the report says cash-strapped community colleges may not be up to efficiently providing lower-division classes for those redirected from UC and CSU while also trying to serve their long-standing clientele.

The colleges may not be the “safety net” for students who don’t get in to four-year universities that state leaders think they are, it says, and it suggests it may be time for the state to reexamine its expectations for the system.

The report highlights a few facts illustrating the importance of community colleges and the challenges they face:
• California community colleges enroll 75 percent of the state’s college students, while the national average is less than 40 percent.

• California is last among states in the percentage of Latino and African American students who earn a bachelor’s degree compared to their share of the 18-year-old population.

• California is in the bottom one-third of states for percentage of high school graduates earning a bachelor’s degree within six years.

Contacts: Institute Publications, (916) 278-3888
CSUS public affairs, (916) 278-6156

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