Black Student Persistence Rates at Two-Year Community Colleges

Nationwide about 45 percent of African-American students who enter four-year colleges graduate with a bachelor’s degree within six years. This poor performance says nothing whatsoever about the success rate of black students who enroll in two-year community colleges. And this is a very large segment of all blacks who are enrolled in higher education. Blacks who are enrolled in two-year colleges account for 40 percent of all African-American enrollments in undergraduate higher education. And this percentage is undoubtedly on the rise due to the nation’s severe economic recession.

New statistics from the U.S. Department of Education tracked the status of students who enrolled for the first time in two-year community colleges in the 2003-04 period. The data shows that 25.2 percent of all blacks who enrolled at these schools had dropped out within the first year and had not returned to college by 2006. More than 41 percent who enrolled at these two-year colleges in 2003-04 were still enrolled at the same institution three years later. For those still enrolled, nearly 35 percent had taken a semester or more off from college during the three years since they had first enrolled.

The new Department of Education report shows that, on average, black students have a difficult time completing the two-year course of study at community colleges.

But there is some good news. In 2007 more than 90,000 African Americans were awarded two-year degrees at the nation’s community colleges. This is up more than 50 percent from the year 2000.