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What a Few Courses Can Bring

Aurora Brief Reviews No. 17 July 17 2020

September 2020

Two scholars from the Community College Research Center at Columbia University analysed what it does to students at 4-year Colleges if they take supplementary courses at a Community College. What is the impact on the likelihood of obtaining a college degree and on labour market outcomes? Census data show that about 20% of students at 4-year Colleges do this and 8 % obtain credit.

Using student data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, they find in their working paper “Does Taking Does Taking a Few Courses at a Community College Improve the Baccalaureate, STEM, and Labor Market Outcomes of Four-Year College Students?” that students who took Community College courses on the side obtained more credits (in STEM fields), graduated with better grades and had better employment outcomes than students who did not take such supplementary courses. The paper contains indications that enrolment in supplementary classes at a Community College may particularly benefit low-socioeconomic and female students in the US.

When we try to ‘translate’ this to a European setting – without Community Colleges – one might suspect that STEM courses outside the degree programme and focused on core STEM skills may add to the success of a diverse student population.

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