PEDAR: Executive Summary  The Road Lsss Traveled? Students Who Enroll in Multiple Institutions
Beginning Postsecondary Students
Relationship of Specific Variables to Persistence, Attainment, and Time to Degree
Bachelor's Degree Recipients
Research Methodology
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)
 Bachelor's Degree Recipients

While the previous section focused on first-time beginners in postsecondary education, this section looks at students who attained bachelor’s degrees in 1999–2000 regardless of when they began postsecondary education. The BPS survey included students who began postsecondary education in 1995–96 and, therefore, includes students who did not attain a degree as well as those who attained certificates, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees. B&B, however, looks retrospectively at those students who attained bachelor’s degrees in 1999–2000, regardless of their path to that degree or the time required to attain it. Therefore, these two cohorts are not directly comparable. This section will focus on bachelor’s degree recipients.

An examination of the multiple institution attendance patterns of 1999–2000 bachelor’s degree recipients revealed that a majority (59 percent) attended more than one institution during their undergraduate education, including 35 percent who transferred and 9 percent who co-enrolled at some point (figure 4).4 Among those who started at 4-year institutions, 37 percent had also attended 2-year institutions (table 8-A).

Among bachelor’s degree recipients, independent students, older students, and students with more persistence risk factors were more mobile during their postsecondary studies than dependent students, younger students, and students with fewer persistence risk factors (tables 7-A and 8-A). Although these findings appear to contradict the BPS findings, the populations are not comparable: unlike beginning postsecondary students—whose risk factors are identified when they first enroll—in the B&B study, most of college graduates’ risk factors are determined when they acquire their bachelor’s degree. Thus, over the course of their enrollment, college graduates may become independent and develop additional persistence risk factors such as becoming a parent. Furthermore, students who take longer to attain a degree have more opportunities to attend multiple institutions and may not be captured in the BPS study which only encompasses 6 years. Also, participants in the B&B study have all obtained a bachelor’s degree—thus having overcome whatever persistence risk factors they may have at the time of the survey. When looking at specific persistence risk factors which measure characteristics of graduates when they began their postsecondary education, among college graduates who began at 4-year institutions, those who delayed entry into postsecondary education and those who worked full time during their first year enrolled were more likely than their counterparts who did not delay entry or work full time to attend multiple institutions (table 8-A).

Consistent with the results found for beginning postsecondary students in BPS:96/01 in which multiple institution attendance was associated with slowed progress toward degree or certificate attainment, data from B&B:2000/01 indicated that attending more than one institution was associated with slowed progress toward the bachelor’s degree (figure B). This may be related to the difficulty of transferring credits, different requirements at various institutions, or gaps in enrollment, or mitigating factors such as a move, job change, or change in family status. Other reasons or a combination of reasons may also influence progress toward the bachelor’s degree for students who attend multiple institutions. Among 1999–2000 bachelor’s degree recipients who began in 4-year institutions, as the number of institutions attended increased, so did the average time to completion (tables 8-B and 8-C). Co-enrolling and transferring among bachelor’s degree recipients who began in 4-year institutions also resulted in their taking more time to complete a degree. However, differences by sector for these types of attendance patterns were observed.

In the B&B:2000/01 survey, college graduates were asked to report their main purpose for attending multiple institutions (table 6). As expected, those who began in public 2-year colleges were more likely than those who began in 4-year institutions to report transfer as their main purpose. That is, 63 percent of those who began in public 2-year colleges listed transfer as their main purpose for attending multiple institutions. However, about one-half of students who began in 4-year institutions (both public and private not-for-profit) also reported transfer as their main purpose. In addition, about one-third of bachelor’s degree recipients who began in 4-year institutions said they enrolled in more than one institution to take additional classes.

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