Part-Time Undergraduates in Postsecondary Education: 200304 Postsecondary Education Descriptive Analysis Report

Enrollment Characteristics

Several enrollment characteristics distinguished exclusively part-time students from their full-time peers. For example, a majority of exclusively part-time students (64 percent) attended public 2-year institutions, compared with 25 percent of exclusively full-time students (figure C). On the other hand, exclusively full-time students were more likely than exclusively part-time students to attend public or private 4-year doctoral institutions (33 vs. 11 percent).

Consistent with their high concentrations in public 2-year institutions, exclusively part-time students were more likely than full-time students to be enrolled in an associate’s degree program or not be in any degree/certificate program and much less likely to be enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program. In addition, 31 percent of exclusively part-time students did not have a major field of study, compared with 16 percent of exclusively full-time students.

Although they somewhat resembled full-time students with respect to their demographics, family backgrounds, and educational expectations, part-time students who looked like full-time students retained many enrollment characteristics associated with part-time attendance, such as the tendency to attend 2-year colleges, enroll in subbaccalaureate or nondegree/certificate programs, and not have a major field of study (figure D). These enrollment characteristics are generally associated with lower persistence and attainment rates in postsecondary education (Berkner, He, and Cataldi 2002).