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Community College Students Face a Very Long Road to Graduation

When Mr. de Jesus came to school, he was present and engaged. In his English class, he typically offered observations that were sharper than those of the other students. But as the semester wore on, he had trouble getting to his classes on time — or at all.

In this habit, he was like many others. “You’ll see them come the first few weeks and then they disappear,” Ms. Gutierrez said. One morning in May, 10 of 28 students in her class were absent. One woman who had come explained that she hadn’t completed a particular assignment because in addition to school, she had a full-time job and slept only four hours a night.