DataPoints: Significantly more parent students attend community college

Young college students with children disproportionately attend community colleges, according to a new analysis of federal data by Child Trends, a research organization focused on improving the lives of children and youths.

Almost half (47%) of postsecondary students age 18 to 24 with children attend community college, roughly three times the percent of parent students who attend public four-year colleges (15%) and private for-profit institutions (16%), according to Child Trends, which examined U.S. Education Department data from the 2015-16 academic year.

The types of colleges that young parents attend also vary significantly by race and ethnicity, the analysis shows. More than half (54%) of young Hispanic students with children attend public two-year colleges, reflecting the large proportion of Hispanic students who attend community college, mainly due to their affordability and options that allow them to balance education with work and family obligations, Child Trends says. Meanwhile, 38% of young Black or African-American parenting college students attend community college. Among White and Asian parent students, 46% and 51% attend community college, respectively.

Parenting students often earn higher grade point averages than their classmates without children, but they are less likely to complete their degrees, according to Child Trends. Less than one-third of mothers obtain a degree or certificate within six years of enrollment, it notes.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.