Insights from the Statewide College Attendance Survey

(Sacramento State/Melissa Uroff)

The California Community Colleges (CCC) system is one of the largest and most diverse higher education systems in the world, serving more than 2.1 million students every year. However, completing a degree or certificate program at a community college can be challenging, and many students drop out before finishing. To better understand the reasons why students leave, the RP Group conducted a survey of CCC students in the fall of 2022. The survey gathered information on students’ reasons for attending college, the challenges they face, and the supports that would help them complete their programs. In this blog post, we will examine the survey results and discuss how institutions can use this information to better support their students.

Focusing on Adult Learners

One notable aspect of this survey is that it focuses on adult learners rather than the traditional K-12 pipeline approach. This is important because adult learners face unique challenges when it comes to returning to college. Figure 4 highlights some of these challenges, including work and family responsibilities, financial constraints, and lack of information about available resources. Institutions can make it easier for adult learners to return to college by providing flexible scheduling options, childcare services, financial aid resources, and clear information about available supports.

Barriers to Returning

The results also shed light on specific barriers that prevent students from returning to college. Figure 4 shows that work and family responsibilities are the most cited barriers, followed by financial constraints and lack of information about available resources. Institutions can address these barriers with more flexible policies. “Most students expressed a need for continued support and flexibility from their college so they can manage competing responsibilities from school, work, and family,” the survey’s writers noted. “Many students hope that professors will continue to be lenient with due dates and class attendance, which would help them progress toward their educational goals and not feel the need to drop out or take a break from classes.”

How Schools Can Help Comebackers

The results show that community colleges can play a critical role in addressing these barriers and supporting student success by providing more hands-on guidance to returning students. “Getting human support was too complicated,” one survey-taker relayed to RP Group. Institutions can use this information to prioritize resources and ensure that students have access to the supports they need to overcome challenges and complete their programs.

How ProjectAttain! Can Help

The Statewide College Attendance Survey Fall 2022 provides valuable insights into the challenges and supports that impact community college students’ success. Institutions can use this information to develop targeted interventions and policies that support student success. As we move forward, it is essential that institutions work together to ensure that all students have access to the resources and supports they need to complete their programs.

We encourage both two-year and four-year institutions to join ProjectAttain’s Degree Network and work towards creating more equitable pathways to higher education. Together, we can help more students achieve their educational and career goals.

To learn more about the Degree Network, contact Barbara Halsey, Director of Networks, at [email protected].