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Community Colleges and Transfer

High school counselors generally feel prepared to advise students about community colleges and believe these institutions offer relatively easy application and enrollment processes. However, results of a national survey conducted by NACAC showed that many counselors feel less knowledgeable about transfer policies at area four-year colleges and about comparisons of community colleges to for-profit colleges.

Other key findings include:

Counselor Preparation

  • In general, counselors felt at least “moderately prepared” to advise students about community colleges, and they were the most prepared to discuss the process of applying to/enrolling in community college. However, fewer than 40 percent felt very prepared about important topics such as local community college transfer policies and for-profit college comparisons.
  • Slightly more than half of counselors (55 percent) had received professional development on advising students for community college enrollment in the past three years.

Attitudes/Stigma

  • A large majority of counselors strongly agreed that community colleges offer relatively easy application and enrollment processes (82 percent), strong vocational/technical programs (72 percent), and cost savings for a bachelor’s degree (80 percent). However, most counselors reported less positive attitudes about the academic rigor of community college coursework and the ease of transfer to four-year colleges.
  • Counselors at public schools were much more likely to strongly agree that community colleges offer rigorous academic coursework when compared to their private school counterparts (42 percent compared to 23 percent).
  • The highest levels of stigma were reported at private, non-parochial schools. Counselors at more than half of private, non-parochial schools indicated that community college transfer was very stigmatized among parents/families (61 percent) and students (53 percent). Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of survey respondents from private, non-parochial schools reported that community college transfer was very stigmatized among the administration, compared to only 10 percent of private, parochial schools and four percent of public schools.

Download the research brief. 

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