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2008 Spotlight

Community College

Which Seniors Attend Community Colleges Right After High School?

Background characteristics and immediate enrollment

Among 2004 seniors, a greater percentage of females than males were immediate enrollees (67 vs. 59 percent) (see table SA-10).22 However, among those immediate enrollees, no measurable difference was found between the percentage of females and males who enrolled in a community college (29 vs. 31 percent) because females enrolled in 4-year institutions at higher rates than males (see table SA-11). Among all 2004 seniors, the percentages of Asians/Pacific Islanders and Whites who enrolled immediately after high school in a postsecondary institution (75 and 69 percent, respectively) were greater than the percentages of Blacks (53 percent), Hispanics (47 percent), and American Indians/Alaska Natives (46 percent) who did so (see figure 13). However, among immediate enrollees, a greater percentage of Hispanics enrolled in a community college than Asians/Pacific Islanders, Whites, Blacks, or students of more than one race (46 percent vs. 25, 28, 30, and 24 percent, respectively). These same patterns by sex and race/ethnicity were observed in 1992 (see tables SA-12 and SA-13).23

The same relationship found with sex and race/ethnicity—whereby those students with the highest rates of immediate enrollment in a postsecondary institution had among the lowest rates of enrollment in community colleges—was also apparent when looking at 12th-graders' family socioeconomic status (SES), parents' highest level of education, and income. SES is a composite measure created using parents' income, level of education, and occupation. These three separate measures yield consistent findings.

Among all 2004 seniors, a greater percentage of students from families within the highest quarter of SES enrolled immediately in college than students from families within the lowest quarter of SES (82 vs. 42 percent) (see figure 14 and table SA-10).24 However, among immediate enrollees, 17 percent of students from the highest SES families enrolled in a community college, whereas 44 percent of students from the lowest SES families did so. Likewise, among 2004 seniors, as students' parental education and income increased, so did the percentage who enrolled immediately in a postsecondary institution. And again, among immediate enrollees, the inverse was true for enrollment in community colleges: as students' parental education and family income increased, the percentage who enrolled immediately in a community college decreased (see table SA-11). These same differences by SES, parental education, and family income were detected among 1992 seniors (see tables SA-12 and SA-13).

In sum, these data suggest that, like the community college population as a whole, the population of immediate enrollees going to community colleges includes seniors from a wide spectrum of family backgrounds. However, at the same time, these immediate enrollees consist disproportionately of seniors who are among the least likely to attend a 4-year college or university right out of high school—Hispanics and those from families in the lowest quarter of SES. This does not mean that these two groups constitute a majority of immediate enrollees in community colleges, but rather that they enroll at higher rates than their peers. Indeed, looking at differences by race/ethnicity while controlling for SES, underscores that (1) Hispanic immediate enrollees, regardless of family SES, generally enroll at higher rates in community colleges than their peers of other races/ethnicities (except American Indians/Alaska Natives) and (2) immediate enrollees from the lowest SES families enroll in community colleges at higher rates than their peers from the highest SES families regardless of being White, Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, or more than one race (see figure 15). Among American Indian/Alaska Native immediate enrollees, however, family SES does not seem to be related to the rates at which they enroll in community colleges.


22 The percentage of male and female students in the 2004 senior cohort and among immediate enrollees can be found along with percentage distributions for all the variables used in this special analysis in table SA-14. Table SA-15 presents the comparable percentages for 1992 seniors and immediate enrollees. (back to text)

23 One difference in 1992 that was not detectable in 2004 was that, among immediate enrollees in 1992, American Indians/Alaska Natives as well as Hispanics enrolled at greater percentages in community college than Asians/Pacific Islanders, Whites, or Blacks. (back to text)

24 Each student's family was assigned an SES value based on five equally weighted, standardized components: father's/guardian's education, mother's/guardian's education, family income, father's/guardian's occupation, and mother's/guardian's occupation. An occupation prestige value was determined by using the 1961 Duncan index. The information about these components came from the parent questionnaire, or, when missing, from the student questionnaire or imputation. Students from families with the highest SES are those whose family SES value was in the top 25 percent of all sampled students' families. Students from families with the lowest SES are those whose family SES value was in the bottom 25 percent of all sampled students' families. (back to text)

Figures and Tables

Figure 13: Percentage of 2004 seniors who enrolled immediately in a postsecondary institution after high school and percentage distribution of these immediate enrollees, by control and type of institution and race/ethnicity: 2004

Figure 14: Percentage of 2004 seniors who enrolled immediately in a postsecondary institution after high school and percentage distribution of these immediate enrollees, by control and type of institution and socioeconomic status: 2004

Figure 15: Percentage of 2004 seniors who enrolled immediately in a community college after high school, by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status: 2004

Table SA-10: Percentage distribution of the spring 2004 12th–grade cohort, by immediate and delayed postsecondary enrollment status, control and type of institution, and selected background characteristics: 2004 and 2006

Table SA-11: Percentage distribution of the spring 2004 12th–grade cohort who enrolled immediately after high school in a postsecondary institution, by control and type of institution and selected background characteristics: 2004

Table SA-12: Percentage distribution of the spring 1992 12th–grade cohort, by immediate and delayed postsecondary enrollment status, control and type of institution, and selected background characteristics: 1992 and 1994

Table SA-13: Percentage distribution of the spring 1992 12th–grade cohort who enrolled immediately after high school in a postsecondary institution, by control and type of institution and selected background characteristics: 1992

Table SA-14: Percentage distribution of the spring 2004 12th–grade cohort, by immediate postsecondary enrollment status and selected characteristics: 2004

Table SA-15: Percentage distribution of the spring 1992 12th–grade cohort, by immediate postsecondary enrollment status and selected characteristics: 1992

Figure S-15: Standard errors for figure 15: Percentage of 2004 seniors who enrolled immediately in a community college after high school, by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status: 2004

Table SSA-10: Standard errors for the percentage distribution of the spring 2004 12th–grade cohort, by immediate and delayed postsecondary enrollment status, control and type of institution, and selected background characteristics: 2004 and 2006

Table SSA-11: Standard errors for the percentage distribution of the spring 2004 12th–grade cohort who enrolled immediately after high school in a postsecondary institution, by control and type of institution and selected background characteristics: 2004

Table SSA-12: Standard errors for the percentage distribution of the spring 1992 12th–grade cohort, by immediate and delayed postsecondary enrollment status, control and type of institution, and selected background characteristics: 1992 and 1994

Table SSA-13: Standard errors for the percentage distribution of the spring 1992 12th–grade cohort who enrolled immediately after high school in a postsecondary institution, by control and type of institution and selected background characteristics: 1992

Table SSA-14: Standard errors for the percentage distribution of the spring 2004 12th–grade cohort, by immediate postsecondary enrollment status and selected characteristics: 2004

Table SSA-15: Standard errors for the percentage distribution of the spring 1992 12th–grade cohort, by immediate postsecondary enrollment status and selected characteristics: 1992

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education