Persistence and the Part-time Community College Student: The Forgotten Majority

by Hall, Christopher J., D.Mgt., UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, 2015, 136 pages; 10042187


Part-time students comprise over half of all enrollments in community colleges, yet the majority do not complete their degree or certificate. Part-time community college students tend to fit in the category of nontraditional undergraduates, as they are more likely to be older, be academically underprepared, delay college enrollment, work a full-time job, be independent, and have dependents in their homes. Though part-time students comprise the majority of community college students, few research studies have been able to define the relationship between nontraditional undergraduate characteristics and their decision not to persist in college. This dissertation investigates the factors related to the low persistence rate of part-time community college students. A systematic review of the literature was used to determine the factors that affected their persistence. The dissertation uses three theoretical models, partial inclusion theory, positive illusion theory, and social bond theory to explain why part-time students do not persist at the same rate as their full-time counterparts. The systematic review of the literature revealed that when compared to full-time students, a higher percentage of part-time community college students have one or more of the other factors negatively associated with persistence. The number of part-time students is predicted to continue to rise and community colleges have to respond to the growth. However, the low persistence rate of part-time students cannot remain the same. This dissertation concludes with recommendations of programs and processes for practitioners and scholars that can be implemented to prevent or slow the attrition rate of part-time community college students.

AdvisersRonald Head; Charlene Nunley
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsCommunity college education; Higher education administration; Higher education
Publication Number10042187

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