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


Part-time undergraduates, especially exclusively part-time students, were at a distinct disadvantage relative to those who were enrolled full time: they came from minority and low-income family backgrounds; they were not as well-prepared for college as their full-time peers; they were highly concentrated in 2-year colleges and nondegree/certificate programs; and many of them worked full time while enrolled, placed a priority on work over study, and did not enroll continuously.

In addition, the report found that part-time enrollment was negatively associated with long-term persistence and degree attainment even after controlling for a wide range of factors related to these outcomes. This was the case even for the group of students with characteristics that fit the typical profile of a full-time student (i.e., age 23 or younger, financially dependent on parents, graduated from high school with a regular diploma, and received financial help from parents to pay for postsecondary education); regardless of whether they resembled full-time students, part-time students (especially exclusively part-time students) lagged behind their full-time peers in terms of their postsecondary outcomes even after controlling for a variety of related factors.