Set Up To Fail?: The First-Year Student Experience at BCCC

January 2003 / Abell Reports / Education

Findings from interviews with Baltimore City high school graduates attending Baltimore City Community College reveal a transition fraught with obstacles to success.

“BCCC will bridge the gap for me between high school and college. It will be my stepping stone.”

— a 2001 graduate of Patterson High School

As this student’s comment implies, recent graduates of Baltimore City public high schools arrive at Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) with expectations of making a smooth transition into higher education and embarking on a course toward career success. In-depth interviews with current first-year students at BCCC, however, tell a different story, one that confirms past Abell Foundation findings that for many, the journey through BCCC is anything but successful and smooth. Poor academic preparation and minimal college planning in Baltimore City’s public high schools leave students with a tremendous remedial burden: they arrive at college handicapped, only to encounter a college support structure that is ill-equipped to help them overcome these deficiencies.

These students do not know how to make BCCC work for them, and absent more intensive support at the college, they risk being set up to fail.