Lingerers in the Community College

By Betsy Prueter

A recent report from the Community College Research Center examines data on first-time college students at nine community colleges including demographics, course enrollment and performance, credential completion, and transfer rates. The report’s analysis is focused on “lingerers,” defined as students who completed 30 or more college-level credits, were still enrolled in their fifth year, but had not yet earned a credential.

Among the report’s findings:

  • Lingerers tended to be roughly similar to credit students (students who were enrolled in developmental education or college-level coursework) and completers in terms of ethnicity, age, and median household.
  • The vast majority of lingerers intended to earn a credential or transfer to a four-year institution, similar to the intentions of completers.
  • Lingerers appeared to be less prepared for college than completers.
    • 83% of lingerers were referred to remedial education, compared to 76% of completers.
    • 10% of lingerers tested as “college-ready,” compared to 17% of completers.
    • Only half of lingerers enrolled as full-time students, compared to 60% of completers.
    • Lingerers failed about 25% of courses in which they enrolled, while completers failed 10% of courses.
  • While lingerers attempted similar numbers of credits compared to completers, they earned many fewer credits than completers.
    • Lingerers earned, on average, 57 credits, while completers earned about 82 credits.