A Quick Rundown of Community College Diversity Statistics

Posted by Shelley Kilpatrick on 30 August 2016 |

quick rundown diversity statsCommunity colleges play a major role in helping students achieve success in higher education. In fact, according to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), 46 percent of all undergraduates in the U.S. are enrolled in community colleges. Plus, 41 percent of first-time freshman attend community colleges.

Community colleges also serve a very diverse population. But what does that diversity look like? And why does it matter? To find out, let’s start by looking at some statistics.

Diversity Among Community College Students

Student Enrollment

Research from the College Board, a non-profit connecting students to college success and opportunity, found of all undergraduates enrolled at public two-year colleges:

  • 51 percent identify as a race/ethnicity other than white:
  • 5 percent Asian
  • 14 percent Black
  • 22 percent Hispanic
  • 10 percent other      

Data from AACC on first-time students at community college indicates they are largely minorities:

  • 21 percent identify as two or more races
  • 19 percent Hispanic
  • 19 percent Black
  • 18 percent American Indian
  • 16 percent White
  • 15 percent Asian/Pacific Islander

Students’ Ages

The College Board report found that community colleges are home to a higher percentage of “non-traditional” students:

  • 21 percent are under 20
  • 34 percent are 20-24
  • 16 percent are 25-29
  • 28 percent are 30 or over

International Students

AACC provides data showing that 30 percent of community college students come from families who migrated to the U.S. Specifically:

  • 16.4 percent are U.S. citizens with foreign-born parents
  • 6.5 percent are foreign-born U.S. citizens
  • 5.6 percent are resident aliens or eligible non-citizens
  • 1.5 percent are foreign students with visas

Parenthood

Many community college students are juggling school with parenthood, according to AACC:

  • 29 percent of community college students are parents
  • 53 percent are single parents

Disability

AACC also reports that 12 percent of students at community colleges indicate they have a disability.

  • 28 percent identify as having mental illness/depression
  • 22 percent identify as having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • 8 percent identify as having orthopedic or mobility impairment
  • 7 percent identify as having a hearing impairment
  • 6 percent identify as having a specific learning disability or dyslexia
  • 29 percent identify as having other types of disabilities

Why Does Diversity Matter?

As you can see, community colleges serve an extremely diverse student population. And diverse groups of people have different needs and expectations.

To do the best job at educating your students, it’s important to understand how diversity can benefit your college and how you can help students achieve success.

For example, just like in business, diversity offers many different viewpoints. This can be helpful in a classroom setting. But at the same time, if students don’t understand how to respect each other’s comments, it can turn into a heated discussion that’s ultimately unproductive or hurtful.

Helping students communicate with respect and understand each other’s backgrounds can facilitate a healthier learning environment. And it will prepare them for life after college where they will be expected to work with people from all over the world.

Additionally, faculty and staff need to be prepared to help students with varying needs, such as pregnant and parenting students or students who have disabilities.

The Next Step 

Four year colleges and universities aren’t the only schools that need robust diversity programs. In fact, it could be argued that community colleges have an even greater need to focus on diversity and inclusion on campus.

To learn more about how you can get started with a diversity program on your campus, check out this podcast we recorded with Dr. Lisa McBride, inaugural chief diversity officer at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

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