Academic Momentum to Complete Degrees by Clifford Adelman, USA Education Department, 2006. This is not a new study, but all recent research has confirmed his findings. I have prepared this summary below. Higher Education Data – analysis is for four-year colleges only; 8.5 years longitudinal data that follows same students through transcript analysis of their college careers.
- 90% of students who leave their first college turn up at another institution after their first year (suggests first year dropout rates false).
- Much data and reporting mixes 19 year olds with 31 year old college students.
- See students as more active rather than passive in a pipeline from k-12 to college. What should students do to persist?
- “Pipelines” are unidirectional closed spaces with students passively swept along or leaking at joints, this is a bad metaphor for how system works.
- Student path is not like a pipeline—starts, stops, moves sideways, pursues several paths.
- 60% of undergraduates go to more than one institution, 20% go out of state, 7% area based in four-year institutions, but also attend community college, 8% “swirl” back and forth between four-year and two-year.
Advice for students on how to improve chances of college completion
- Do not delay college entry after high school. Stay continuously enrolled, do not stop out.
- Attainment during second academic college year is crucial –can recapture academic momentum and complete “gate-way core courses.”
- Earning four or more credits in summer—positive contributor to degree completion, so enroll all year around for some credits
- Part-time attendance hurts a lot in terms of completion probability
- Remediation seems to help completion in four-year, less so in two-year.
- Withdrawal or repeating courses without penalty is big negative in terms of completion