Teachers College, Columbia University

Do Student Success Courses Actually Help Community College Students Succeed?

By Matthew Zeidenberg, Davis Jenkins & Juan Carlos Calcagno

Underpreparation is typically viewed in terms of deficiencies in students' basic academic skills. Community college educators maintain, however, that many entering students are also unprepared in the nonacademic skills and behaviors, such as study habits and time management, that are necessary for college success.

In response to this increasingly acknowledged need, community colleges now offer "student success" courses that are designed to help students form goals for college and careers, develop good study habits, and learn about campus resources.

This brief reports on recent CCRC research on the relationship between enrollment in student success courses and successful outcomes, including credential completion, persistence, and transfer. Using a large dataset on Florida community college students, researchers used statistical models to see if student success courses still appear to be related to positive outcomes even after controlling for student characteristics and other factors that might also influence the relative success of students who take such courses.