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Challenges and opportunity: An examination of barriers to postsecondary academic success

Community colleges are a critical component of the U.S. higher education system, providing access to students from traditionally underserved communities. However, enduring challenges to completion stemming from educational, economic, and social inequities persist. Building on prior work that examines barriers to student success and their relationship to student outcomes, this descriptive study examines the relationship between students’ time utilization, engagement with campus resources, financial and mental well-being, with academic persistence. Specifically, we examine the relative importance of these barriers on students’ educational attainment. We find that the incidence of adverse mental health is comparable to 4-year undergraduate populations. The rates of food and housing insecurity are comparable to previous studies, though strikingly high. While a plurality of respondents engage with multiple campus resources, this engagement is unrelated to their propensity to remain enrolled or complete additional credits. Most notably, mental health conditions were negatively related to persistence and credit accumulation, while the relationship between academic outcomes and measures of food and housing insecurity was smaller and not significant. Our findings suggest that facilitating access to mental health supports is a prominent avenue for supporting student engagement and success.

mental health, community college, financial insecurity
Education level
Document Object Identifier (DOI)

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Bonilla, Sade, and Veronica Minaya. (). Challenges and opportunity: An examination of barriers to postsecondary academic success. (EdWorkingPaper: 24-925). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University:

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