On Second Chances and Stratification: How Sociologists Think About Community Colleges

By: Lauren Schudde & Sara Goldrick-Rab | October 2014

Community colleges increase college access, extending postsecondary educational opportunities to underserved students, yet these students exhibit low rates of program completion and transfer to four-year colleges. Sociological research on community colleges focuses on the tension between increasing educational opportunity and failing to improve equity in college completion across key demographics, such as race and socioeconomic status. This article provides an overview of sociology’s approach to understanding community colleges. The authors describe sociological theories, examine the contributions they make to the field, and discuss the discipline’s recent debates regarding community colleges. They conclude by highlighting research areas for further progress and discussing the role sociology could play in transforming community colleges.

This article has been published in the Community College Review.

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