Perceived readiness of Jamaican community college students for postcollege goals
Smith-Henry, Dawn Vivienne
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Concerns have been raised about how effectively Jamaica‘s community colleges prepare students for academic transfer and career transition. This survey study examined the extent that involvement, personal characteristics, and college-related variables predicted students‘ perceptions of their readiness for postcollege goals. The study investigated 11 predictors—class involvement, involvement in extracurricular activities, age, gender, employment status, family responsibilities, mother education, father education, enrollment, academic major, satisfaction with college—and two outcome variables, i.e., perceived readiness for work, and perceived readiness for higher education. The study‘s conceptual framework was developed from Astin‘s (1984) student involvement theory, Pace‘s (1984) student development model, and Tinto‘s (1975, 1993) student departure theory. Based on these theories, it was hypothesized that class and extracurricular involvement would be important factors in predicting student perceptions of readiness for work and higher education goals. Descriptive statistics and regression analyses were used to analyze data from a criterion-based convenience sample of 554 full- and part-time final-year students. The students were enrolled in four majors—business, hospitality, computer, architecture and construction—at seven public community colleges in Jamaica. Higher education was the chief postcollege goal. Involvement variables were the best overall predictors of perceived readiness for higher education and work. Class involvement was a stronger predictor than extracurricular involvement. Student age and mother‘s education were the only statistically significant personal characteristics variables. Satisfaction with college was the only significant college-related variable for predicting perceptions of readiness for higher education. Based on these findings, recommendations for practice, policy, and future research were proposed.