Cohort 2, published 2011
An Exploration of Civic Engagement of Community College Students
Abundant evidence from studies comparing individuals with a bachelor’s degree to those without suggests that higher levels of educational attainment are positively associated with increased levels of civic engagement. Yet, few studies explore the civic engagement levels of current community college (two-year) students as well as individuals who graduated from a community college but did not go on to obtain a four-year degree. In this study I explored the civic engagement of current two-year students compared to four-year students as well as adults with a bachelor’s degree compared to those with a high school diploma or an associate’s degree to better understand if differences exist between these groups. I found that community-based engagement was significantly lower for two-year students than four-year students, and these differences may stem from differences in enrolling full-time, living on campus, and hours worked on or off campus. When I isolated two-year students, enrolling full-time, living on campus, and hours worked on and off campus were significant predictors of their community-based engagement. Two-year students were also significantly less likely to discuss politics than four-year students, however full-time enrollment, living on campus, and hours worked on or off campus did not explain the differences. In addition, two-year students were not significantly different from four-year students in their engagement in political protests, but when I controlled for a student enrolling full-time, living on campus, and how many hours they worked on or off campus, two-year students were significantly more likely to participate in political protests than four-year students. With only two-year students in the regression, enrolling full-time, living on campus, and hours worked on campus were significant predictors of their engagement in political protests. For adults not currently enrolled in school and likely beyond their college going years, high school graduates and associate’s degree holders were significantly less likely than bachelor’s degree holders to engage in community-based and political engagement activities. The findings resulted in leadership, policy, and equity implications.
Link to Dissertation