Why Community Colleges are Important for Broadening Participation in Computing

August 5, 2014 at 8:16 am 5 comments

At our ECEP meeting after the NCWIT summit earlier this summer, Cheryl Kiras presented some data on community college enrollment that was really eye-opening for me.

This is from a fact sheet American Association of Community Colleges (available here).  This is describing the percentage of all undergraduates in a group that are enrolled in community colleges.  56% of all Hispanic undergraduates were enrolled in community colleges in Fall 2012.  48% of all Black students, and 59% of all Native American students.  Wow — that really supports the argument that if we want to broadening participation in University level computing, we need to improve the transfer and recruitment paths from Community Colleges into Universities.  We can make it better at the University (and we should), but that’s only reaching half the students.


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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. shriramkrishnamurthi  |  August 5, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Yes, thanks. Combine this with the views of the MOOC advocates who’ve said that thanks to MOOCs, we can do away with community colleges! Speaking of CCs, I’m a fan of this blog — http://suburbdad.blogspot.com/ (“Confessions of a Community College Dean”) — which was pointed out to me by Kathi Fisler.

  • 2. George Lara (@saandstorm)  |  August 5, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    I’m in my early 40’s and currently enrolled in one of the local community colleges. The amount of diversity at the CC level is truly amazing. So much of the new learn to code initiatives seemed to be targeted to much younger groups. With the right partnerships CC’s have the potential to help fill the pipeline instead of waiting 10 years for grade schoolers hit the university level.

  • 3. Michael S. Kirkpatrick  |  August 6, 2014 at 8:32 am

    I’d be curious to see the enrollment data broken down by region or state. I have a suspicion that the variance is very large and tied to the demographics of the area. We work closely with a few community colleges, and their demographics are pretty similar to our own. We’re in western VA, which is not particularly a melting pot.

    The reason this is problematic is because historical data from the state shows that CC students are less likely to enroll in a 4-year program if the school is more than 100 miles from home. So, while there are other CCs in the state that have different enrollment demographics than the ones we work with, the distance factor becomes a very challenging barrier toward recruitment.

    • 4. Bri Morrison  |  August 6, 2014 at 10:49 am

      Michael – does the research indicate the reasons CC students don’t enroll in 4-year programs more than 100 miles from home? If it’s costs associated with living expenses then perhaps distance courses could help alleviate that problem (NOT MOOCs, true online courses with small class sizes and access to the instructor). It seems to me you’d need to know the reasons why the students don’t want to leave home to be able to address the transfer issue.

  • […] programs in Massachusetts.  Two year programs are much more diverse than universities (see some data here), but only about 25% of the students who want to transfer do so.  Part of our strategy with ECEP […]


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