Does College Focus Matter? Explaining Differences in Labor Market Outcomes among Community Colleges

Michael Dunn, Arne L. Kalleberg


The evolution of community colleges from their origins as junior colleges to institutions with dual missions to provide both academic and workforce preparation raises questions about the impact of a college’s mission focus on their students’ labor market success. We examine this question using the 58 colleges in the North Carolina Community College system as case study for community colleges nationally. We find that students from community colleges that specialize or focus on career objectives had higher labor market earnings; about one-fifth of the variation in students’ earnings across community colleges is due to the college’s mission focus. Other community college variables also enhance students’ earnings, such as institution size as well as having single-county service areas and low proportions of remedial students.

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Copyright (c) 2017 Michael Dunn, Arne L. Kalleberg

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Journal of Educational Issues  ISSN 2377-2263


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