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2008 Spotlight

Community College

Part A. Students Who Enroll in Community Colleges Immediately After High School

Data from two surveys are used here to describe the characteristics of students who enroll immediately after high school in community colleges and to determine if there have been any changes in these characteristics over time. The most recent data come from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002), “Second Follow-up, 2006,” a longitudinal study that began with a nationally representative cohort of high school sophomores in 2002. These same students were interviewed again in 2004, when most were seniors,18 and then a second time in 2006, when most had begun their postsecondary education or gotten jobs. The ELS:2002 data allow us to map out what percentage of the senior class of 2004 enrolled immediately in college as well as the type of college in which they enrolled. Moreover, these data allow us to compare students who enrolled in community colleges with their peers who enrolled in 4-year colleges and universities by sex, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, and by measures of high school academic preparation (coursework) and ability (using 10th-grade mathematics assessment scores).

In this special analysis, ELS data are compared with data on the senior high school class of 1992 to see if there are any differences between immediate enrollees at community colleges in 2004 and over a decade earlier. Data on the senior high school class of 1992 come from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88), an earlier longitudinal study that began with a nationally representative cohort of 8th-graders in 1988. This study interviewed the students in the sample in 1992, when most were seniors,19 and followed up again in 1994, when most had begun their postsecondary education or gotten jobs.


18 The 2004 Follow-up augmented the original sample to ensure a nationally representative sample of high school seniors. For more information on ELS:2002, see http://nces.ed.gov/
surveys/els2002/
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19 The 1992 Second Follow-up augmented the original sample to ensure a nationally representative sample of high school seniors. For more information on NELS:88, see http://nces.ed.gov/
surveys/nels88/
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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education