Department of Educational Administration


Document Type


Date of this Version



Published in Community College Journal of Research and Practice (2019)

doi 10.1080/10668926.2019.1600616


Copyright © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Used by permission.


A significant percentage of the enrollment growth in higher education can be attributed to the recruitment of more diverse students, including those from immigrant households. Although research on immigrant students is growing in light of changing U.S. demographic shifts, this literature is inchoate. This paper examines evolving perspectives of the value of a four-year degree among immigrants and children of immigrants. Thus, in this paper article we synthesize current dominant narratives of immigrant students about the utility and viability of a four-year degree (and the changing impact on community college enrollment) and how they have shifted over time. We observe a current pulse that questions the ideological attitude of college for all, with some noting that a four-year degree has less significance and payoff than in the past within today’s changing economy. Moreover, we present our findings through an empirical study of immigrant community college students’ perceptions of the viability and value of the four-year degree and the implications for research and practice.