The Surprising Labor Market Success of Part-Time Community College Students

Christopher Maggio and Paul Attewell. Community College Journal of Research and Practice. May 2019.


Considerable research has focused on the academic outcomes of part-time undergraduates. Fewer studies, however, have addressed their post-college labor market outcomes. This study compares the post-college earnings of community college students at a large, urban, public university system based on different full-time, part-time, and stop-out trajectories during their first four semesters. We find in many cases that part-time students earn as much as their full-time classmates post-college. Community college students who enroll part-time during their first four semesters earn significantly more after college than full-timers. These effects are evident among those who graduate or earn sixty credits and among those who do not. Compared to consistent, full-time enrollees, two groups of community college undergraduates have significantly lower post-college earnings among the full sample and those earning a degree or sixty credits: full-timers who interrupt their studies with a stop-out, and students who mix full-time with part-time and stopping-out.

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