Community College Pathways for Disadvantaged Students

53 Pages Posted: 21 May 2019

See all articles by Harry J. Holzer

Harry J. Holzer

Georgetown University - Public Policy Institute (GPPI); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Zeyu Xu

American Institutes for Research

Abstract

In this paper we estimate the impacts of the "pathways" chosen by community college students - in terms of desired credentials and fields of study, as well as other choices and outcomes along the paths - on the attainment of credentials with labor market value. We focus on the extent to which students change their choices over time, whether students make well-informed choices, and the impacts of choices on outcomes. We find that several characteristics of chosen pathways, such as field of study and desired credential as well as early "momentum," affect outcomes. Student choices of pathways are not always driven by information about later chances of success, in terms of probabilities of completing programs and attaining strong earnings. Students also change pathways quite frequently, making it harder to accumulate needed credits in their fields. Attainment of credentials with greater market value could thus likely be improved by appropriate guidance and supports for students along the way, and perhaps by broader institutional changes as well.

Keywords: community college, pathways, labor market, earnings

JEL Classification: I2

Suggested Citation

Holzer, Harry J. and Xu, Zeyu, Community College Pathways for Disadvantaged Students. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12319. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3390308

Harry J. Holzer (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Public Policy Institute (GPPI) ( email )

3600 N Street, NW Suite 200
Washington, DC 20057
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Zeyu Xu

American Institutes for Research ( email )

1990 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006-1107
United States

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