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The Effects of Community Colleges: Aid or Hindrance to Socioeconomic Attainment?

Kevin Dougherty
Sociology of Education
Vol. 60, No. 2 (Apr., 1987), pp. 86-103
DOI: 10.2307/2112584
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2112584
Page Count: 18
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The Effects of Community Colleges: Aid or Hindrance to Socioeconomic Attainment?
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Abstract

The community college is both important and controversial. It now enrolls 36 percent of all students in college. But there is much debate over whether it aids or hinders its students' socioeconomic attainment. This paper aims to measure the community college's effects and to explain how those effects are produced. In the first section, I critically synthesize research comparing the effects of community colleges and the effects of other postsecondary institutions on educational attainment and economic success. I conclude that baccalaureate aspirants entering community colleges attain less educationally and economically than comparable students entering four-year colleges. But community-college entrants seeking only subbaccalaureate vocational training seem to get more education than if they had entered a four-year college. However, the research allows no conclusion on which type of institution best promotes the economic success of subbaccalaureate aspirants. In the second section of the paper, I develop a model of the factors that impede the educational attainment of community-college entrants who aspire to a baccalaureate.

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