From Access to Persistence: Where Students Initially Attend College Matters
In recognition of the fact that returning for a second year is a good predictor of college completion, there is increasing policy focus on persistence in postsecondary education. Researchers at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago have examined factors associated with college students returning after their first year to continue their studies. Examining two cohorts of Chicago youth who attended public school, they have learned that persistence in college is strongly related to the type of college that students initially attend.
* Of students who enroll in a 4-year college, over three-quarters (77%) returned for a second year.
* Of those who begin at a 2-year college, fewer than half (46%) persisted to a second year.
This finding underscores the importance of understanding students’ outcomes in the context of their educational trajectories. Students’ success in college is associated with the type of college in which students initially enroll. This, in turn, depends on the level of preparedness and academic credentials they have upon entering college and on their individual and family characteristics, the most challenging of which tend to be faced by 2-year college students.
* Fifty percent of high school graduates from Chicago Public Schools continue to some sort of postsecondary education (either a 2- or a 4-year college), compared with only 17 percent of dropouts.
* High school graduates who enroll in college are evenly split between 2-year and 4-year colleges.
* Of the high school dropouts who enroll in college, over three times as many enroll at a 2-year college as at a 4-year college.
* Of high school graduates who enroll in any type of college, 64 percent return for a second year, compared with only 21 percent of the high school dropouts who initially enroll in any type of college.
This research highlights for policymakers and educators potential points of intervention along the multiple pathways to postsecondary education for encouraging students to pursue and to persist in attaining college degrees.