College Completion Pathways Are Obscure

One of the best writers on transition to broad access postsecondary education is James Rosenbaum, Professor of Sociology at Northwestern.  His new paper is a must read.

Permeability and Transparency in the High School-College Transition

Jennifer Stephan, Doctoral Student, Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University; and James Rosenbaum, Human Development and Social Policy and Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University.

Dramatic changes have taken place in the who, where, and how of higher education.  Colleges are no longer dominated by traditional undergraduates attending traditional colleges.  Now there is great variety in the types of students who attend college, the institutions they attend, and their attendance patterns.  This working paper proposes a conceptual framework for thinking about how higher education policies shape students’ pathways through higher education.  The authors present evidence about the operation of American higher education in terms of this framework and then use the framework and then use the framework to consider three policy areas: high school counseling policies; community college policies, including open-admissions; and financial aid policies.  Stephen and Rosenbaum argue that while the current policies have increased accessibility and choice in higher education, they also obscure the pathway to completion.

Note:  Put IRB Working Papers, 2006-2008 in Google, then go to WP-08-07. Rosenbaum’s book, College for All is a major influence on my thinking about college transition.