PEDAR: Executive Summary Short-Term Enrollment in Postsecondary Education: Student Background and Institutional Differences in Reasons for Early Departure, 1996-98
What Proportion of Students Left College Without a Credential and Did Not Return in the First 3 Years?
What Factors Were Associated with Early Departure from Postsecondary Education by Institution Type?
Students' Educational Expectations
Other Characteristics
What Reasons Did These Short-Term Enrollees Give for Their Departure?
What Other Characteristics of Short-Term Enrollees Were Associated with Their Reasons for Departure?
Were Differences in Reasons for Departure by Institution Type Found After Controlling for Other Characteristics?
Other Results
Research Methodology
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)
Other Results

Among students who left college within 3 years of first enrollment, some of the reasons they gave were consistent with their characteristics. For example, middle-income students were more likely than high income students to say they left because they needed to work. Students who had never intended to complete a credential of any kind from the institution where they began were more likely than those seeking a degree or certificate to indicate that they left because they were finished. However, this reason was not given by even a majority of those with no degree goals, suggesting that other factors may have deterred them.

Relatively few student characteristics were associated with leaving because of a change in family status. However, students who had more dependents in 1998 than when they began postsecondary enrollment were more likely than others to say they left because of a change in family status. In addition, women were more likely than men to cite this cause. These results are consistent with other literature on this reason for leaving college (Bonham and Luckie 1993).

While academic problems were not frequently cited as a cause for student departure, students who had lower grades were more likely to give this reason than those with higher grades. However, this relationship was not found once other factors were taken into account. In the multivariate model, not working while enrolled and full-time enrollment were associated with leaving for academic reasons. These results suggest that leaving because of academic problems is more common among students who do not have nontraditional characteristics.

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