Report: Mississippi is above national average in moving students from community college to bachelor's degree

Mississippi ranked above the national average and 12th in the country in the number of students who attend community college and go on to graduate from four-year schools, according to a report released Tuesday.

The report, from the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University, as well as the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program and the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, shows 15 percent of the students who started community college in fall 2007 in Mississippi went on to earn a bachelor's degree within six years.

That ranks 12th out of the 43 states examined -- the other states did not have enough data. Nationally, 14 percent of students met the same standard.

"Research indicates that the vast majority of students who enter higher education through community colleges intend to earn a bachelor's degree or higher, but only 14 out of every 100 in the nation succeed," said Davis Jenkins, CCRC senior research associate. "These findings show us that while more can certainly be done, Mississippi is leading the country in successfully ensuring that students who start at our community colleges are reaching their goals of attaining a bachelor's degree."

On the Coast, 71 percent of the students who enrolled at the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Park campus in fall 2015 transferred from community college, according to the admissions office.

"The University of Southern Mississippi is committed to providing services and programs for our transfer and four-year students that create pathways to academic success," said Casey Malone Maugh Funderburk, the interim associate provost for the Gulf Park campus.

The Long Beach campus has the Learning Commons and Think Center to provide one-on-one tutoring, study spaces, study-skills assessment and interactive learning spaces. Officials also encourage incoming community college students to attend orientation sessions to learn about student services, financial aid, veterans-affairs assistance, academic services and other general information.

Mississippi also ranked sixth in the number of students who transfer from community colleges to four-year schools, seventh in the percentage of students who earn an associate degree or certificate before transferring and fourth in the percentage of students from low-income families who transfer and earn a bachelor's degree.