Immigrant-Origin Students in Community College: How Do They Use Their Time on Campus?

Edwin Hernandez, Carola Suarez-Orozco, Janet Cerda, Olivia Osei-Twumasi, Monique Corral, Yuliana Garcia, Dalal Katsiaficas, Nidia Ruedas-Gracia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Immigrant-origin students are the fastest growing new population in community colleges, making up nearly a third of the community college population. To date, little is known about how immigrant-origin students make use of their time on community college campuses.

Purpose: This study sought to understand in what ways and to what extent immigrant-origin students-defined as first-generation (foreign-born) or second-generation (born in the United States to immigrant parents)-used their out-of-class campus time at three urban community colleges. We examined the following quantitative questions: How much time do students report spending on campus doing what activities? What is the demographic variation in these patterns (according to immigrant generation, ethnicity/race, and gender)? What factors predict how much overall time immigrant-origin students spend on campus? What is the effect of academically productive time spent on campus on grade point average for immigrant-origin students? We also explored the following qualitative questions: What do immigrant-origin community college students say about Me time they spend on campus? What insights do they have as to what impedes or facilitates their spending (or not spending) time on campus?

Research Design: The study proposed a new conceptual framework and employed an embedded sequential explanatory mixed-methods design approach. As part of a survey, participants (N = 644, 54.6% women; M age = 20.2 years; first-generation immigrant n = 213, 33%; second-generation immigrant n = 275, 43%) completed a series of items about the time that they spent on campus and their relationships with their instructors and peers. Qualitative response data were derived from an embedded interview subsample of participants (n = 58).

Results: Immigrant-origin students reported spending a considerable amount of out-of-class time-an average of 9.2 hours-on campus. Hierarchical regression analyses demonstrated that peer relationships and time spent helping parents or commuting positively predicted the amount of time students spent on campus. Qualitative responses provided further insights into immigrant-origin community college student experiences and provided perspectives on issues contributing to their spending out-of-class time on campus.

Conclusions: This study has implications for research, practice, and policy, given that immigrant-origin students make considerable use of their campus spaces. Community colleges should strive to nurture positive spaces and design the kind of on-campus programming that will enhance the success of immigrant-origin students. Collectively, these services will not only enhance the experience of immigrant-origin students but also be beneficial to the larger campus community that uses the community college sector as a stepping-stone toward upward social and economic mobility.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA20
Pages (from-to)1-48
JournalTeachers College Record
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Immigrant-Origin Students in Community College: How Do They Use Their Time on Campus?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this