Survey Identifies 6 Ways to Help Community-College Students Succeed

Most community college students think they’re more motivated and prepared for college level work than they really are, according to a new report titled, “Benchmarking and Benchmarks: Effective Practice With Entering Students,” published by The Survey of Entering Student Engagement, or SENSE, which is administered by the Center for Community College Student Engagement. The research cited in the article below also suggests six ways to help community college students succeed and colleges increase their retention rates.

In my work with college students across the country, I saw so many deficits among college freshmen, even those enrolled in Ivy League schools, that ten years ago I started LifeBound to bring what I’ve learned to the lower grade levels. Here are statistics that I was asked to share in February of 2010 at the National Resource Center on the First Year Experience annual conference:

Elementary School Level:

  • Starting in 5th grade, American students begin to slip academically

Middle School Level:

  • 70% of American 8th graders can’t read at grade level
  • Fewer than 2 in 10 of the nation’s 8th graders are on track to be academically prepared for college

High School Level – 9th grade:

  • Nearly 6.2 million students in the United States between the ages of 16 and 24 in 2007 dropped out of high school
  • The dropouts from the class of 2007 cost the US $300 billion in lost wages, taxes and productivity

High School Level – 10th and 11th grade:

  • Only 51% of sophomores are enrolled in programs defined by their high school as “college prep”

High School Seniors and College Freshmen:

  • Nationally, 40% or more of freshmen drop out of college every year
  • 30% of college freshmen drop out after their first year
  • 50% of college freshmen never graduate

American students need a reality check for what higher education—and ultimately the 21st century world of work—will require of them. LifeBound’s student success and transition programs help students develop success habits and prepare them to meet these challenges academically, socially and emotionally. In the context of the SENSE report, the new fifth edition of my book, MAJORING IN THE REST OR YOUR LIFE, offers students the insights and real-world skills they need to persist with their college and career goals. To receive review copies of any of our books, call the toll free # 1.877.737.8510 or email

How can we do a better job of raising the bar to prepare incoming freshmen for college and career success?

In particular, what can we do to help smooth the transition for nontraditional students who “never had to think like college students before,” said Jim A. Merritt, director of the career and employment center at Iowa Valley?

How can we help faculty members to create their own set of high expectations for the students they advise?


Chronicle of Higher Education
March 29, 2010
Survey Identifies 6 Ways to Help Community-College Students Succeed
By Ashley Marchand

Even though most community-college students say they are motivated, many haven’t developed the habits that could lead them to actually achieve their academic goals.
That was a key finding of a new national survey of community- and technical-college students that is being released on Monday. A report on the survey, “Benchmarking and Benchmarks: Effective Practice With Entering Students,” provides six benchmarks for colleges that are trying to improve students’ habits during the critical first three weeks of class.

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