Community College Students

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Helping students complete their college educations while few individuals familiar with the American postsecondary system would dis- agree with the simple statement that community colleges differ from their four-year counterparts, much of the research on community colleges appears to ignore blatant and obvious differences. 

Community colleges and their students have generally been studied through the lens of research universities, using identical conceptual models, variables, and measures. Because of this separation, students will be able to contact each other for help with questions such as someone helps me with drama writing for college, help with my educational problems and etc. This situation is akin to treating a giraffe like a hippopotamus. While both animals have four legs, are large, and eat vegetation, put them both near a pond and major behavioral differences become quickly obvious. 


The study of college retention illustrates a clear example of the “disconnect” between community colleges and four-year universities. The traditional approach is to apply the retention model posted by Tinto in 1975. The reason why this model is so famous applied so often and has remained respected through more than three decades is because of its common sense simplicity. 

According to the Tinto theory, university students must abandon their old lives and become socially and academically integrated into their new post- secondary environments in order to succeed. 

However, when considering community college students, Tinto ’s model provides a poor fit. 

Unlike their four-year counterparts, community college students do NOT abandon their pre-college lives. The vast majority of community college students continue to live in the same homes, to work, to take care of families, and to socialize within the same social circles that defined their pre-college lives. Rather than abandon their previous lifestyles, community college students merely add college to their existing agendas.


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