Interesting Statistics on Community College Enrollment

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Community college student bodies are comprised of all sorts of students. Learn more about the types of people who attend these schools and study some intriguing statistics about these students.

Community College Student Bodies

Community college is an attractive option for students who want to earn a degree or certificate but do not have the time or resources to attend a 4-year university. Lower tuition, flexible schedules, and part-time study options are among the many reasons that almost half of all undergraduate students choose to enroll at a community college.

Across the country, community colleges are known for their diverse student bodies. Students from all walks of life attend these schools. Let's take a deeper look at just who exactly they are.

Group of students

Profile of Community College Students

There isn't really such a thing as an 'average' community college student. All types of people attend community college, from graduates fresh out of high school to middle-aged professionals looking to bolster their resumes or change careers. It's just as likely for an 18-year-old white male to attend as it is for a middle-aged African-American woman.

  • The average age of a student in community college is 28. There is also a high chance that this average student is employed, as around two-thirds of all community college students work while completing their program.
  • For the past thirty years, more than half of all community college students have been women, and close to half belong to an ethnic or racial minority.

Students on campus

In addition to having a wide range of ages and races, community colleges also have students from all over the world. In the 2013-14 school year, 87,963 international students studied abroad at an American community college.

As these statistics show, community college student bodies contain students of all races, genders, nationalities, and ages.

Employment

If you're considering working while attending community college, it might boost your confidence to know that you won't be the only one doing so. In fact, you'll be in the majority; approximately 69 percent of students are employed.

In many cases, these are not just side jobs to earn extra income. 22 percent of full-time students work 35 hours or more per week, and a whopping 41 percent of part-time students work full time. Part-time jobs are also very common; 32 percent of part-time students and 40 percent of full-time students are employed part time.

Enrollment Status

Not surprisingly, the high percentage of students who are also employed has a major influence on enrollment rates and types at community colleges. Due to busy work schedules and other commitments, the majority of community college students (62 percent in total) attend their courses on a part-time basis.

Community college students

Community colleges also offer a bevy of noncredit courses and programs. Though these programs do not award any type of degree or certificate, they can be used for continuing education or simply for personal enrichment. These courses are quite popular, as 40 percent of all students at community college were enrolled in noncredit courses as of the fall of 2014.

Changes Over Time

How does all this data compare to past years? Have there been any major shakeups, or does all this information simply confirm a status quo that has been in place for decades?

First of all, the number of students attending these schools has climbed dramatically. At the end of the 20th century, just over 5,590,000 students were enrolled in a for-credit program at a community college. Fourteen years later, in 2014, and the number rises to 7,300,000, an increase of well over a million. Accordingly, the number of associate's degrees awarded rose from 411,633 in 2000 to 795,235 in 2014.

Racial diversity has also improved in this span. In 2000, the racial breakdown of graduates who were awarded associate's degrees was as follows:

  • 73% White
  • 10.9% Black
  • 9.3% Hispanic
  • 5% Asian/Pacific Islander
  • 1.2% Native American

Community colleges today enjoy much more diverse student bodies. The racial breakdown of students enrolled in for-credit programs for the 2014-15 school year was as follows:

  • 49% White
  • 22% Hispanic
  • 14% Black
  • 6% Asian/Pacific Islander
  • 1% Native American

As you can clearly see, every single minority category saw increases, with the exception of Native Americans, who remained the same. The percentage of Hispanic students more than doubled, while the percentage of Black students increased significantly as well.

College Campus

Unfortunately, tuition has also skyrocketed in the past 15 years. Tuition and fees at public community colleges averaged $1,416 for the 2000-01 school year. Meanwhile, the 2015-16 school year saw an average tuition of $3,430. This number was for in-district students, who often enjoy the lowest rate. Students living farther from campus (especially out of state) can probably expect to pay even more for their degree.

Community colleges cater to all types of students, and this fact is reflected in the many interesting statistics concerning student body diversity.

By Bill Sands
September 2016
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