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Working During College, Transfer and Completion: Clarifying Assets and Institutional Support for Latinx and Other Racial/Ethnic Groups


Latinx student enrollment in college has dramatically increased in recent years, yet they are more likely than other racial groups to enroll at open access and public two-year institutions (Rodriguez, 2015). While public-two-year sector provides an encouraging postsecondary pathway for Latinx students, only 13% of all community college students transferred and earned a baccalaureate degree within six years (Teacher’s College, 2017). This study used the NCES Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study 2012/2017 to identify the social identities, behaviors, attributes, and institutional characteristics for working students at community colleges that maximize transfer and college completion. The primary focus was on Latinx students (3,280) compared with Black (3,170), White (13,030) and Asian students (1,020). Specifically, this study assessed the effects of working 0-1 hours, 2-20 hours, 21-35 hours, and 36+ hours per week during college while also testing an asset-bundle framework (Johnson & Bozeman, 2012), to assess successful transfer to four-year institutions for community college students, and six-year baccalaureate attainment for all students who began either as first year students or transferred to four-year institutions. Findings indicate that working during college is not a detriment to transfer and completion, controlling for all other factors in the model. Part-time work while enrolled (2-35 hours per week) and High School GPA are important positive predictors of Latinx student transfer, while enrolling part-time and having dependents had a negative impact on transfer for Latinx students. Results also show that part-time work while enrolled, High School GPA, and academic advising had the strongest positive effect on college completion, while having dependents, part-time attendance, and having an income below $35,000 per year were the strongest negative predictors for baccalaureate degree attainment. The theoretical framework was effective in revealing the importance of providing critical institutional support for Latinx students, such as providing financial support and academic advising. Moreover, future research can continue to explore the Asset-Bundle model, as it is evident that controlling for the various assets improves prediction of Black and Latinx academic outcomes and explains some of the disparities.

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