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Baccalaureate and Beyond
Longitudinal Study 93/94
First Follow-up Methodology Report

August 1996

(NCES 96-149) Ordering information

The following contains an excerpt from The Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:93) First Follow-up Methodology Report. This excerpt describes the purpose, objectives, and study design. A full copy of this report is available in portable document format (Adobe Acrobat PDF). You need the Acrobat Reader software to view these files.

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For questions about the content of this report, please contact Paula Knepper at Paula.Knepper@ed.gov.


1. An Overview of the Baccalaureate and Beyond Study

1.1 Purpose of the Study

The Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:93) tracks the experiences of a cohort of recent college graduates, those who received the baccalaureate degree during the 1992-93 academic year and were first interviewed as part of the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS). This group's experiences in the areas of academic enrollments, degree completions, employment, public service, and other adult decisions will be followed for about 12 years. Ultimately, B&B:93 will provide data to assess the outcomes of postsecondary education, graduate and professional program access, and rates of return on investment in education.

The U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is authorized to conduct the B&B:93 study under Section 404(a) of the National Education Statistics Act of 1994, Title IV of the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994, P.L. 103-382, which states:

"The duties of the Center are to collect, analyze, and disseminate statistics and other information related to education in the United States and in other nations, including (1) collecting, acquiring, compiling ..., and disseminating full and complete statistics on the condition and progress of education at the pre-school, elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels in the United States, including data on ...
  • student achievement at all levels of education; ...
  • educational access to and opportunity for postsecondary education, including data on financial aid to postsecondary students;
  • teaching, including data on course-taking, instruction, the conditions of the education workplace, and the supply of, and demand for, teachers, which may include data on the proportions of women and men, cross-tabulated by race or ethnicity, teaching in subjects in which such individuals have been historically underrepresented;
  • the learning and teaching environment, including data on libraries;
  • the financing and management of education, including data on revenues and expenditures; and ...
  • (3) conducting longitudinal studies as well as regular and special surveys and data collections, necessary to report on the condition and progress of education; . . ."

1.2 Analytic Objectives

As the 1992-93 cohort of college and university graduates advances through adulthood, the effects of postsecondary education will become increasingly important. The B&B :93 study will provide data to address issues in several major areas of educational policy: educational attainment; access to graduate and professional schools; the rate of return on educational investment; and patterns of preparation and engagement in teaching.

Attainment and outcome assessment. Degree completion, licensing, and certification are central to educational attainment and outcome assessment. Questions in this area include the following:

  • Are bachelor's degree recipients able to enter the work force or graduate school soon after acquiring the degree or within the time periods they expect?
  • Do bachelor's degree recipients enter jobs related to their major fields of undergraduate study?
  • How long do bachelor's degree recipients take to complete the bachelor's degree? Does this vary by field of study, type of school, age of student, or time of first entry into a postsecondary program?
  • How long does it take to obtain a job in an area related to the field of study? Does the required time differ by degree attained? Does it differ by field?

Graduate and professional program access. Entrance into graduate or professional school after completing the bachelor's degree raises many of the same questions as initial entry into the work force. In many fields, it is necessary to complete a graduate program to get a job in the field. In other fields , such as teaching, additional study may be required to continue working or to be promoted in the field , even though graduate education is not required for initial entry into the field. In most fields, graduat e education enhances the ability to perform, even if it is not strictly required for entrance, continuation, or promotion. Therefore, it is important to determine whether persons who wish to continue their education beyond the baccalaureate degree have the opportunity to do so. Questions in this area include the following:

  • Are people who want to enter graduate school immediately after completing the bachelor's degree able to do so? Why do some graduates delay entry into graduate or professional study? Do these persons persist in seeking to enter and do they succeed in entering later?
  • Are those who want to enter graduate school after gaining some work experience able to do so when they planned, or are they further delayed? Do they carry out their original plan or later decide against graduate school? How long do they delay entry?
  • What proportion of students who have no plans for graduate school at the time they complete the bachelor's degree later change their minds and attempt to enter graduate school? Do these persons have the access they would have had if they had attempted to enter graduate school immediately after completing the bachelor's degree? Are ther e additional difficulties associated with later decisions to enter graduate school?

Rate of return. Rate of return refers to the financial payoff or other value of the bachelor' s degree relative to the expense in time and money of obtaining the degree. There are two perspe ctives for gauging the rate of return. From the perspective of the individual, the rate of return can be measured in terms of monetary reward and personal satisfaction. From the perspective of society, rate of return can be measured in terms of the contribution a student makes to the nation's productivity as well as through community involvement and public service. For example, societal returns to investments i n postsecondary education include the work performed by bachelor's degree recipients in public service areas such as teaching, volunteer work, and other community service.

For both the individual and society, rate of return can also be gauged by the adequacy of th e individual's preparation for entry into work and community service and by the individual's acquired abilit y to gain from and contribute to that experience. B&B:93 examines the rates of return from postsecondary education from the perspectives of both the individual and society. Specific questions include the following:

  • What proportion of bachelor's degree recipients enter jobs related to their fields of study immediately after receiving the bachelor's degree? Are these persons able to work effectively and advance in their work without additional schooling or do they encounter obstacles which can only be overcome by seeking additional education?
  • Do persons who complete graduate school have a better chance to obtain positions in their field than persons who do not complete graduate school? Is there a difference in starting salaries between those who have completed graduate school and those who have not? Is there a long term difference in salary?
  • How many bachelor's degree recipients are eligible or qualified to enter public service professions such as teaching? How many enter full-time positions in public service fields for which they are qualified?
  • Is the proportion of persons who enter public service fields higher or lower among persons seeking jobs immediately after completing the B.A. than among those who first attend graduate school?
  • Do bachelor's degree recipients who enter public service positions advance in their jobs at the same rate as bachelor's degree recipients who enter non-public service jobs?

Patterns of teaching.Another important feature of the B&B:93 program is that the sample has been designed to facilitate the study of elementary and secondary school teaching careers. Data fro m B&B:93 will be used in the monitoring of supply and demand characteristics of the labor market, and career patterns of teachers, including movements into and away from this profession over time. Many of the same issues discussed earlier, concerning initial aspirations and expectations versus ultimat e decisions, will be examined. Additional considerations include measuring quality, noting comparative values, and measuring monetary returns to teaching. Specific questions that the B&B:93 program will help address include:

  • What is the proportion of new college graduates who enter the teaching profession as their first career versus those who are attracted to it later in life? What are the defining characteristics of these groups?
  • What is the rate at which teachers change careers, and how does it compare to career-changing patterns of other professionals? How satisfied are teachers in their careers versus those who are employed in other occupations?
  • What are the potential sources for new teachers, that is, where do those who enter teaching come from (and, of those who left it, where did they go)?
  • How do teachers compare with non-teachers along the lines of gender, race-ethnicity, and socioeconomic backgrounds?

In summary, B&B:93 will contribute to a comprehensive statistical investigation of educational policy issues and help to fulfill NCES's mission, to report on the condition and progress of America n education in all its aspects. In recognition of its broad mandate, NCES has expanded its data collection program to investigate educational experiences beyond the traditional span of postsecondary education. Baccalaureate and Beyond, with its wealth of data on the consequences of postsecondary education, will contribute to the study of education as a lifelong process.

1.3 Study Design

The B&B:93/94 study is the first in a series of five follow-up interviews of persons who received a bachelor's degree in the 1992-1993 academic year. Baseline data for the B&B:93 cohort were collected as part of the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:93). The first follow-up intervie w (B&B:93/94) collected information from respondents one year after they received their bachelor's degree . Subsequent interviews will take place at three year intervals. By the end of the 12-year period, most students who attend graduate or professional schools should have completed, or nearly completed, their education and be established in their careers.

Data collection for the first follow-up of Baccalaureate and Beyond took place in the summer and fall of 1994. The B&B:93 cohort comprised approximately 12,500 individuals who were determined , in NPSAS, to be potentially eligible for follow-up in 1994. Respondents were interviewed using Computer-Assisted-Telephone-Interviewing (CATI), as well as field interviewing when necessary. In addition, undergraduate transcripts from the respondents' degree-granting institutions were collected as part of the first follow-up study. Data collection activities took place as follows:

B&B:93/94 CATI data collection / June 15, 1994 - October 8, 1994
B&B:93/94 Field data collection / August 20, 1994 - December 31, 1994
B&B:93/94 Transcript data collection / August 15, 1994 - December 31, 1994


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