Institutional Conditions that Matter to Community College Students’ Success

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Community College Journal of Research and Practice



Based on the shift in higher education from providing access to improving student outcomes, the purpose of this study was to examine institutional conditions community college students perceived as contributing to success in terms of identifying and making progress toward or achieving their educational goals. Institutional conditions were categorized as the campus environment and institutional agents (faculty, staff, and administrators). The study employed a qualitative and explanatory, multiple-case study at Grace Home College (GHC), a pseudonym. GHC is a multi-campus, nonresidential, limited-access state college in the southeastern United States. Data were collected through review of documents, archival data, artifacts, direct and participant observations, and semi-structured one-on-one interviews. Comparisons were made to identify commonalities and differences between aligned processes at two different sites at GHC. The results revealed similar findings at each location in that students identified three themes that addressed their educational goals including institutional characteristics, environment conducive for learning, and meaningful interactions with institutional agents. These findings led to the creation of a new model denoting the hierarchy of meaningful student interactions with institutional agents, which could be used by other institutions as a replicable or modifiable model to attain student success. The results from this study could contribute to the body of literature noting the importance of meaningful relationships that develop over time between students and institutional agents that lead to students’ success.


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