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Enrollment and transfer status can affect college graduation rates


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The issue of college completion is one of the most serious challenges facing education officials today. Although financial aid eligibility and the rising cost of higher education tend to receive a greater share of the headlines, the number of students who successfully graduate from college is an important factor for policymakers. College-bound students may also want to consider this data as they conduct their college search.

A new report published by the National Student Clearinghouse revealed nationwide degree attainment trends and provided insight into how the landscape of higher education is changing.

On the move
Many college students choose to transfer to another school at some point during their higher education. Data from the report suggests that one third of all students transferred at least once within five years. The rate of transfer was similar for both part-time and full-time students over this time period. In addition, more than one quarter of all transfers crossed state lines to continue their education.

Reverse transferring, the practice of leaving a four-year school to attend a two-year college, while not as popular as the two- to four-year college route, is still widely practiced, with 14.4 percent of first-time students engaging in reverse transfer over a six year period. More than half of these students did not return to a four-year school. Students who reverse transfer were less likely to attain any kind of degree in a six year period.

According to the report authors, understanding student mobility can help campus policymakers at both two-year and four-year institutions craft policies that will better assist students in making decisions about their educational pathways.

Challenges for part-time students
Earning a degree takes time, dedication and hard work. Due to personal financial circumstances, many students attend college on a part-time basis while working full- or part-time. However, doing so may be detrimental to students' chances of successfully completing college. Data from the report indicates that 70 percent of students nationwide who enrolled at public four-year institutions on an exclusively part-time basis failed to complete a program or remain enrolled in a degree program. In 13 states, this figure rose to 75 percent, highlighting the challenges many part-time students face in successfully earning their credentials.

As they prepare for college, students must consider how their personal circumstances will affect their likelihood of completing college with a degree and the potential to find a job. Whether a student graduates from a program, any student loans taken to finance higher education will have to be repaid. As such, students should discuss their concerns with college admission and financial aid officials before committing to any firm decisions.

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