Increasing enrollment (87%) and retention rates (78%) remain top-tier concerns for community college leaders, according to a new report based on a fall 2021 survey of two-year college officials. Increasing graduation rates (59%) was third, followed by reducing equity gaps (57%) and re-engaging lapsed students (52%).
Seven in 10 survey participants said that holistic student support was one strategy they will use to bolster retention rates. Support services were second on a list of preferred retention strategies, slightly behind offering flexible course schedules (72%). Community college officials noted they foresee strong student demand for supports such as mental health services (76%), academic support (75%), academic advising and counseling (75%), help meeting basic needs (62%), and financial aid advising (60%).
Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) of college leaders indicated that they are optimistic about enrollment prospects, citing a “return to normal” post-Covid, expanding degree options and the high cost at other education institutions as driving factors for students to enroll at two-year colleges.
The online survey sponsored by Salesforce.org and The Chronicle for Higher Education included 703 leaders from public two-year colleges.