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PEDAR: Executive Summary  Waiting to Attend College: Students Who Delay Their Postsecondary Enrollment
An Overview of Delaye Entrants
High School Dropout Risk Factors and Academic Preparation
Duration of Delay
Student Characteristics
Enrollment Characteristics
Why They Enrolled
Overall Persistence and Attainment
Research Methodology
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)

Because of their age differences, one expects delayed entrants as a whole to differ from immediate entrants in terms of family formation and the likelihood of having children. Yet even when comparing delayed entrants who are relatively young (i.e., those who delayed less than 5 years) to immediate entrants, marked differences were apparent. For example, about one-fifth of the youngest delayed entrants—those who delayed no more than 1 year (median age 19)—and nearly one-third of those who delayed 2–4 years (median age 21) had children or were responsible for other dependents, compared with 2 percent of immediate entrants.9 These findings indicate that even relatively young delayed entrants have considerable family responsibilities.

The length of time students delayed postsecondary enrollment also varied by income level (table 5).10 Based on their age and length of time in the labor market, one would expect those who delayed 5 or more years to have higher incomes than those who delayed a shorter period of time. This was clearly observed: 42 percent and 38 percent, respectively, of those who delayed 1 year or 2–4 years were in the lowest income group, compared with 26 percent and 17 percent, respectively, of those who delayed 5–9 years or 10 or more years. Thus, even though delayed entrants as a whole were generally more likely than those who did not delay to be in the lowest income level, as the duration of delay increased, the likelihood of being in the lowest income level declined.

In addition to income group differences, the proportion of White students increased with the duration of delay, from 62 percent of those who delayed no more than 1 year to 78 percent of those who delayed 10 or more years. So as the time between high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment went up, the likelihood of being in the lowest income level declined while the likelihood of being White increased. These patterns suggest that younger delayed entrants (i.e., those who delayed less than 5 years) tend to be at a greater socioeconomic disadvanage than those who delayed longer.

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National Center for Education Statistics -
U.S. Department of Education