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Most students arrive at college expecting to succeed and believing that they are motivated to do so. Too often, though, there is an evident difference between being motivated and being prepared to succeed. Still, community college students often come to recognize one factor that plays a pivotal role in their success: connections. Entering students predict they will stay in college and achieve their academic goals because of their own resolve. They expect to succeed because of my own determination, or so my children will have a better life. But most continuing students indicate that, at some point, they considered dropping out, and their reasons for staying in school are revealing: They almost always include the name of a particular person--an instructor, a staff member, another student--who gave the encouragement, guidance, or support they needed to keep going. Personal connections are the unanticipated success factor--a critical variable that improves the odds of persistence. But students' typical patterns of college attendance, including part-time enrollment and juggling classes with work and family commitments, create challenges. Establishing personal connections may not happen easily, much less automatically. This discrepancy raises an important question for colleges and their approach to engaging students: Since strong personal connections are key to keeping more students in college, how can institutions foster stronger and more diverse connections with (and among) students? This year, the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) focuses on the importance of relationships among students, faculty, and staff, and with the institutions themselves: how these connections evolve, the value they add, and the importance of devoting greater effort to nurturing them. [For related reports, see Making Connections: Dimensions of Student Engagement. 2009 Findings. Executive Summary (ED529078) and High Expectations, High Support: Essential Elements of Engagement. 2008 Findings (ED526359).]

Descriptors: Learner Engagement, Community Colleges, Academic Achievement, College Attendance, Student School Relationship, Student College Relationship, Social Cognition, Student Characteristics, Aptitude Treatment Interaction, Social Capital, Social Support Groups, Academic Persistence, Performance Factors, Social Networks

Community College Survey of Student Engagement. 3316 Grandview Street, Austin, TX 78705. Tel: 512-471-6807; Fax: 512-471-4209; e-mail: info[at]; Web site:

Autor: Community College Survey of Student Engagement


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