Virginia’s Community Colleges Served Over a Third of Bachelor’s Degree Earners Last Year

Published: December 4, 2008
  • More than one-third of college graduates in Virginia had attended a Virginia Community College
  • 27 percent completed an associate’s degree before going on to obtain their bachelor’s degree.
  • Nearly 60 percent of students co-enroll or go back and forth between two- and four-year institutions.

More than one third of those who graduated with a four-year degree in 2008 in Virginia got their start at- or supplemented their college experience with courses from- Virginia’s Community Colleges.

A recent research report compiled by the Virginia Community College System’s Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness and the National Student Clearinghouse shows that more than 36 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients at Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities had attended a Virginia Community College.

One in four – 27 percent – had earned an associate’s degree before earning their bachelor’s degree. And three in five – 57 percent – of students “swirl,” or follow non-traditional enrollment patterns moving back and forth or co-enrolling in Virginia’s Community Colleges and four-year colleges and universities.

“In today’s world, the road to a bachelor’s degree for many students will be through the community college,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of the system of 23 community colleges across the commonwealth. “That path can take many turns,” with some students attending community colleges for only a few courses, some to complete associate’s degrees, some through dual enrollment courses in high school, and some picking up needed credits while home for the summer, he said.

Of those students who earned an associate’s degree and went on to earn their bachelor’s degree, nearly half – or 48 percent – took developmental education coursework.

“Community colleges play a vital role for many students, helping to ensure they have the foundation they need to succeed in college classes,” said Monty Sullivan, vice chancellor for academic services and research for the VCCS. “This is a niche only we can fill. Virginia’s Community Colleges took those students to where they needed to be in order to be successful in higher education.”

Students who were among the group of bachelor’s degree recipients studied were predominantly female (59 percent) and attended part-time (69 percent).

About 38 percent of the students in the study had participated in dual enrollment courses.

About one quarter (24 percent) of the students in the sample took developmental education coursework.

The research is based on 28,222 student records identified by the National Student Clearinghouse as receiving a bachelor’s degree from a Virginia public or private institution between Sept. 1, 2007 and Aug. 31, 2008

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