What Matters for Community College Success? Assumptions and Realities Concerning Student Supports for Low-Income Women comes at a critical time. In line with national efforts, California has undertaken a series of reform initiatives to improve student success in the state’s community colleges, especially with respect to completion rates, which have not been up to par (California Community Colleges Student Success Task Force, 2012). For example, only 31% of the 2003–2004 cohort of California community college students seeking a degree either obtained a certificate or degree or transferred to a university within six years of enrolling. In response to these types of statistics, and in order to improve retention and completion rates, Governor Brown recently signed into law the California Student Success Act of 2012. This legislation is designed to improve completion rates by requiring community colleges to develop student success and support programs with, among other things, expanded orientation, assessment, and educational planning services for students. These types of broad efforts have placed a spotlight on how support services can facilitate student success, and what institutional conditions must exist in order for them to do so.
To better understand the barriers to and supports for student success, this report focuses on the experiences of one large segment of community college students—low-income women. In general, women have made significant gains in college enrollment and completion, often outpacing men in both categories.
This report and others from the PATHWAYS to Postsecondary Success team can be accessed at www.pathways-ucaccord.org/publications