Beyond the Pill's research shows that community college students need birth control education to help them achieve academic and professional goals.

Female students laughing

Our recent research shows that community college students have strong desires to prevent pregnancies in order to achieve their academic and professional goals, but lack the necessary information to do so. Beyond the Pill's Marta Cabral wrote an op-ed for CalMatters about our research with California community college students, highlighting the need for better birth control education.

To better understand the needs and motivations of this population, we conducted in-depth interviews with 57 California community college students about their contraceptive experiences, pregnancy intentions and risks, and how these factors related to their educational goals. Students in our study reported a strong desire to prevent pregnancy while attending community college, and women in particular expressed that getting pregnant at this stage of their lives would make it more difficult to achieve their goals. 

However, we found a disconnect between their desires to avoid pregnancy and how they act when it comes to preventing it. Our research showed that these students do not consider themselves to be at risk of pregnancy, despite reporting high rates of unprotected sex.

Our research further suggests that the biggest barrier was a lack of contraceptive knowledge, particularly around method effectiveness and fears about birth control. Few students were aware of methods other than condoms or the pill, such as highly-effective IUDs or implants. Those that were aware of these methods often held negative views and incorrect beliefs about them. Students also overestimated the effectiveness of their birth control method, even when they reported using it inconsistently, or believed having occasional unprotected sex would not lead pregnancy. 

To help community college students make fully-informed decisions about their reproductive health, they need medically accurate education and resources about contraception. In order to provide that, we need to provide better birth control education and solutions that address racial and economic disparities in knowledge and access to health care. 

To learn more about this study, please see: