Not all part-time students could be easily distinguished from full-time students, though. In fact, about 25 percent of part-time undergraduates in 2003–04 exhibited some characteristics common to full-time students—that is, they were traditional college age (23 years old or younger), financially dependent on their parents, graduated from high school with a regular diploma, and received financial help from their parents to pay for their postsecondary education. Referred to as “part-time students who looked like full-time students,”2 this report compared this subgroup with both full-time students and other part-time students to determine whether and how their postsecondary education behaviors differed from their counterparts.
Part-time students who looked like full-time students appeared to be relatively advantaged when compared with other part-time students: they were more likely to be White, have well-educated parents, come from high-income families (for dependent students only), and expect to earn an advanced degree in the future, and they were less likely to be Black and have taken remedial courses (figure B). In addition, part-time students who looked like full-time students were more likely than other part-time students to be male.
Comparing part-time students who looked like full-time students to their full-time counterparts revealed both similarities and differences: they were slightly more likely than exclusively full-time students to be Hispanic, but less likely to be Black, and were more likely to come from families where parents held bachelor’s or higher degrees and to have taken remedial courses after high school. The two groups could not be distinguished in terms of their gender distribution, family income (for dependent students only), and educational expectations.