Teachers College, Columbia University

Stepping Stones to a Degree: The Impact of Enrollment Pathways and Milestones on Community College Student Outcomes

By Juan Carlos Calcagno, Peter M. Crosta, Thomas Bailey & Davis Jenkins

This paper presents findings from a study comparing the experiences and outcomes of older and younger community college students.

The authors developed a discrete-time hazard model using longitudinal transcript data on a cohort of first-time community college students in Florida to compare the impact of enrollment pathways (such as remediation) and enrollment milestones (such as attaining a certain number of credits) on educational outcomes of older students—those who entered college for the first time at age 25 or later—with those of traditional-age students.

Results suggest that reaching milestones, such as obtaining 20 credits or completing 50 percent of a program, is a more important positive factor affecting graduation probabilities for younger students than it is for older students. The authors also found that although enrollment in remedial courses decreases the odds of graduating for all students, older students who enroll in remediation are less negatively affected than are younger ones who do the same.

A version of this paper appeared as an article in Research in Higher Education, vol. 48.