BPS: Executive Summary Descriptive Summary of 1995-96 Beginning Postsecondary Students: Six Years Later
Types of Institutions Attended
Degree Completion Among Students Beginning at Public 2-Year Institutions
Types of Bachelor's Degree Completion Rates for Students Beginning at 4-Year Institutions
Rates of Completion at the First Institution Attended Versus at any 4-Year Institution
Rates Based on Different Subcategories of Students
Focus on Students With a Bachelor's Degree Goal at 4-Year Institutions
Degree Completion and Transfer From the First Institution Attended
Number of Years to Complete a Degree at Different Types of Institutions
Differences in Completion Rate by Enrollment Patterns and Student Characteristics
Profile of 1995-96 Beginners Who Completed a Bachelor's Degree by June 2001
Summary and Conclusion
Research Methodology
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)
Summary and Conclusion

Differences in the bachelor’s degree completion rates of students who began at community colleges and those who began at 4-year colleges and universities reflect differences in the degree goals, academic preparation, enrollment patterns, and demographic characteristics of these students. Compared with students who started at 4-year institutions, those who started at public 2-year institutions were less well prepared for college and were less likely to be continuously enrolled. Beginners at public 2-year institutions were also more likely to enroll part time, to have delayed enrolling after high school, and to be nontraditional students starting postsecondary education with one or more persistence risk factors.

Beginners at 4-year institutions were predominantly traditional students with no persistence risk factors when they started college, and they were usually enrolled full time. Among those with a bachelor’s degree goal, 55 percent of the beginners at 4-year institutions completed a bachelor’s degree at the institution where they had started. When transfer students who completed their degrees at a different institution are also included, a total of 63 percent of the students who began at a 4-year institution with a bachelor’s degree goal completed that degree within 6 years.

Although the expected length of time required to complete a bachelor’s degree is 4 years, 37 percent of the students with a bachelor’s degree goal who started at a 4-year institution in 1995–96 actually finished their degree in that period of time. The characteristics of the students who were most likely to graduate within 4 years with a bachelor’s degree fit a commonly held perception of what a college student looks like—he or she receives good academic preparation in high school, enters college immediately after high school, enrolls in college full time, and is continuously enrolled.

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