Community college students’ lives outside of the classroom—including their sexual and reproductive health— can directly impact their ability to succeed in school, yet most community colleges do not provide sexual and reproductive health services (Bernstein and Reichlin Cruse 2020). Growing efforts to implement holistic approaches to student success also often ignore the role that sexual and reproductive health outcomes can play students’ academic careers. Understanding students’ experiences accessing care and information related to their sexual and reproductive health is important for making the case that community colleges should pay greater attention to students’ health needs. It is also essential to informing how colleges can more effectively promote their students’ health as well as their academic success.
Building on the Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s (IWPR) research on the link between sexual and reproductive health care access and student success, and its report describing promising practices to support students’ sexual and reproductive health needs, this report adds a key element to this body of work: the student perspective (Reichlin Cruse and Bernstein 2020; Bernstein and Reichlin Cruse 2020). This report describes original research undertaken to better understand community college students’ experiences accessing sexual and reproductive health services. It shares an overview of findings from a survey of over 500 community college students in Texas and Mississippi and a series of in-depth student interviews, highlighting noteworthy themes around access to care and students’ thoughts on what they want from their community colleges with regard to their sexual and reproductive health needs. It concludes with recommendations for strengthening community colleges’ ability to help students address these needs and promote their overall health and success.