The (Big) Missing Piece in Your Recruiting Plans

If you work at a four-year institution, are you overlooking a tremendous under-tapped pool of enrollment prospects? If you’re not intentionally recruiting community college students, you may be missing out.

According to data from the American Association of Community Colleges, among all first-time freshmen, 41% are community college students. With the high costs of education and an increasing workforce need for skilled laborers, we expect the numbers to rise.

A recent Inside Higher Ed article responds to a 2015 report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center on this topic. Jason DeWitt, research manager with the center, concludes, “The idea that there’s only one path through college is antiquated.”

Community colleges play a vital role in expanding higher education opportunities across the country.  And it’s working. For underprepared students, community colleges provide the personal attention and extra resources needed to equip students for the rigors of higher education.

Reported by Inside Higher Ed: Sixty-two percent of students who transfer from two-year to four-year institutions go on to earn bachelor’s degrees within six years of transferring. The rate is even higher for students who complete a credential at the two-year college before transferring—at 72 percent.

Ready to start recruiting? Here are some thoughts to keep in mind . . .

For this purpose, there are two types of community college students: those who plan to transfer to a four-year institution, and those who still need to be convinced. Your message will need to address the interests of both groups.

  • For those not yet convinced, highlight increased job potential with a four-year degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics quantifies sharp decreases in unemployment with higher education, along with higher wages. There is a 42% increase in earnings with a bachelor’s degree, compared with only an associate’s degree.
  • Help students discover logical connections from their 2-year programs to 4-year programs. What, specifically, do you have to offer a student with an associate’s degree in communication, or mathematics, or business administration? How can you expand the education of those trained in drafting and design, or automation and control, or nursing? Study the programs at community colleges, and you’ll realize these lists could go on and on.
  • For those who intend to transfer and are comparing four-year colleges, show them that you offer the academic programs that will ensure a smooth transfer and completion of a four-year degree.
  • Finally, consider how you’ll welcome these non-traditional students to campus. Will they find a place to belong among a junior class that started bonding back at freshman orientation?

At 5°, we’ve worked extensively with community colleges and can help you tailor your plans to reach this growing population. Let’s talk about how you can get started!