Teachers College, Columbia University

Do Support Services at Community Colleges Encourage Success or Reproduce Disadvantage?

By Melinda Mechur Karp, Lauren O'Gara & Katherine L. Hughes

This study examines the ways that student support services in community colleges inadvertently perpetuate and legitimate disadvantage. Using interview data from students at two colleges in the northeast, the authors find that although support services are open to all students, only those who come to the college with preexisting social and cultural resources can take advantage of them. Further, students who lack the know-how to make use of support services tend to interpret their failure to progress toward a degree as a personal rather than a structural failing.