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A Descriptive Summary of Nontraditional Undergraduates / Appendix A

Appendix A


Glossary

This glossary describes the variables used in this report, which come from the NPSAS:87, NPSAS:90, NPSAS:93, and BPS:90/94 Data Analysis Systems (DAS) (see appendix B for a description of the DAS). These variables were either items taken directly from the NPSAS or BPS surveys, or they were derived by combining one or more items in these surveys. For all variables in this glossary, the variable name contained in the DAS is identified by the number beside the variable.

The individual variables used to identify nontraditional students in the trend analysis (i.e., the NPSAS variables) are listed first in boldface, followed by the description of the nontraditional scale in italics. This section is followed by the corresponding BPS nontraditional variables and the persistence and attainment variables. The final section consists of the institutional variables and student background variables not used in the nontraditional definition.

Glossary Index

NPSAS Trend Analysis 43

Nontraditional Characteristics 43

Older than typical age 43

Attend part time 43

Work full time in October 43

Financial independence 44

Nonspouse dependents 45

Single parent 45

GED recipient or high school completion certificate 45

Nontraditional scale 45

BPS Persistence and Attainment Analysis

Nontraditional Characteristics 46

Delayed postsecondary enrollment 46

Attend part time 46

Worked full time while enrolled 46

Financial independence 46

Dependent children 47

Single parent status 47

GED recipient or high school

completion certificate 47

Nontraditional scale 47

Persistence and Attainment Variables 47

Initial degree objective 47

Overall persistence and attainment in

postsecondary education 48

Persistence and attainment toward

specific degree 48

Timing of departure from the persistence track 49

First type of departure from the persistence track 50

Institutional Characteristics 50

Level of institution 50

Control of institution 51

Level and control of first institution 51

Student Characteristics 52

Gender 52

Race-ethnicity of student 52

Socioeconomic status 52

NPSAS Trend Analysis

Nontraditional Characteristics

Older than typical age

NPSAS:87/90 TYPAGE

NPSAS:93 TYPAGE2

This variable was used as a surrogate for determining whether or not a student delayed enrollment into postsecondary education. It determines whether a student is older than typical for under-graduate level (year) in school. Typical age was based on the modal age for each year; anything older was considered older than typical. For all three surveys the variable was based on the variable AGE, which is the reported age as of 12/31 of the survey year (1986, 1989, 1992).

Older than typical is defined as:

20 or older in first year

21 or older in second year

22 or older in third year

23 or older in any year

Attend part time NPSAS:87/90/93 ATTEND

Intensity of enrollment in the fall term of the survey year (1986, 1989, 1992) reported by the sample institution (according to institution's definition of part time). It is possible that some students were enrolled in more than one institution, but they were characterized only by their enrollment intensity in the sampled institution.

Full time -- Student enrolled full time in the fall

Part time -- Student enrolled part time in the fall

Work full time in October

Each NPSAS survey determined this information differently. The following describes each variable for the corresponding survey. The variable represents the average number of hours worked per week in the month of October. Full-time work was defined as working 35 or more hours per week.

NPSAS:87 EMWKHR3

Respondents were asked if they were working full or part time during the fall of 1986 (s17), and then asked how many hours they were working at this job (s22). If they reported working in the fall, it was assumed they worked in October.

NPSAS:90 WHRS4

Respondents were asked about each job they worked during the year including the dates and average weekly hours. A monthly variable was created by adding all the jobs for each month the student was both working and enrolled. WHRS4 represents the number of hours worked per week in the month of October.

NPSAS:93 OCTWORK

In the NPSAS:93 survey, students were asked only about their primary job, so even if they had worked more than one job, they were characterized only according to their primary job. This variable was constructed by first determining if respondent held her or his primary job in October 1992 using the job start and end dates reported by the student. If she or he worked in the month of October, the hours per week worked was assumed from the question "How many hours did you work while attending school?" Note, if students worked during the year and if their work dates were missing (about 5%), it was assumed they worked in October.

Financial independence

NPSAS:87 CMPDEP93

NPSAS:87/90/93 DEPEND

Based on the dependency status determined for federal financial aid purposes. The definition of independence changed between 1986 and 1989. In the latter definition, all students who reached the age of 24 by December 31 in the survey year were considered independent. This resulted in a substantial increase in the proportion of independent students due only to the change in definition. Therefore, for the sake of comparability, the new definition was applied to the 1986 sample of students. The way this was accomplished was to re-code all 1986 dependent students who were age 24 by December 31, 1986 as independent.

Independent Student was considered independent by meeting one of the following criteria:

(1) 24 years of age by December 31 of survey year;

(2) a military veteran;

(3) a ward of the court or both parents are deceased;

(4) had legal dependents other than a spouse;[33]

(5) was married or a graduate student and not claimed as a tax exemption for the 2 years previous to the beginning of the academic year and had at least $4,000 in financial resources;

(6) was a single undergraduate but not claimed as a tax exemption for the 2 years previous to the beginning of the academic year and had at least $4,000 in financial resources.

[33] This particular item was also considered a nontraditional characteristic. Therefore, if a student had dependents, he or she automatically had two nontraditional characteristics-having dependents and being financially independent.

Dependent Students were considered financially dependent if they did not meet any of the criteria for independence.

Nonspouse dependents

NPSAS:87/93 RDEPENDS

NPSAS:90 NUMDEPNDS

Any student with dependents other than a spouse was coded as having dependents. Dependents were most often children but could include other family members such as elderly parents.

Single parent NPSAS:87/90/93 SINGLPAR

A student who was not married in the survey year but had nonspouse dependents was coded as a single parent.

GED recipient or high school completion certificate

NPSAS:87/90/93 HSDEG

Student received a GED (General Education Development) certificate or a certificate of high school completion. Students who never completed high school (about 2 percent of NPSAS samples) were excluded from the analysis because of their limited access to 4-year institutions.

Nontraditional scale NPSAS:87/90/93 RISKNDX2

Represents an index based on the sum of seven nontraditional characteristics:

Older than typical age for year in school

Attend on a part-time basis

Financially independent

Have dependents other than spouse

Worked full time in October

Single parent

GED recipient or high school completion certificate

Traditional -- No nontraditional characteristics

Minimally nontraditional -- 1 nontraditional characteristic

Moderately nontraditional -- 2 or 3 nontraditional characteristics

Highly nontraditional -- 4 or more nontraditional characteristics

BPS Persistence and Attainment Analysis

Nontraditional Characteristics

Delayed postsecondary enrollment DELAYENR

Students who did not enter postsecondary education in the same calendar year as high school graduation were considered to have delayed their enrollment. Students who did not graduate from high school, but received a GED or a certificate of high school completion, were also considered to have delayed enrollment. Most of these students were GED recipients, a majority of whom received their GED a year or more after leaving high school. Thus even if these students entered postsecondary education in the same calendar year as they received their GED, they were still considered to have delayed because of the elapsed time from leaving high school. In a very small number of cases (less than 0.2 percent) students may have earned a certificate of completion before or at the expected time of high school graduation (i.e., they were 18 or younger).

Attend part time ATT8990

Student attended part time when he or she first began postsecondary education in 1989-1990.

Worked full time while enrolled HRS8990

Employment status when student began postsecondary education in 1989-90. Full time was defined as working 35 or more hours per week during those months when enrolled for at least part of the month. If the student was employed (including college work-study) during a given month, the average number of hours worked per week across all jobs held during the month was derived based on the start and end dates and the average hours worked per week of each job as reported during the interview. In calculating this average, the denominator was increased by 1 if the student was employed and enrolled at any time during the month. For this variable, employment was only considered if the student was enrolled during part of the month. For example, if students worked 20 hours per week for three months during the year they were enrolled, but worked 40 hours per week at other times, their value for this variable would be 20 (i.e., in deriving this variable, the hours employed while not enrolled were ignored).

Financial independence DEP8990

An independent student was one who was not claimed as an exemption on his or her parents' 1988 federal income tax return. Note, this variable differs from the one used for the NPSAS trend analysis (see Financial Independence under NPSAS Trend Analysis), which is based on federal financial aid criteria. The BPS definition was used because it was believed to be a more accurate representation of a student's actual financial status when they began postsecondary education (this information was not available for NPSAS participants). However, more than 90 percent of students identified as independent according to financial aid criteria were also identified as independent for federal tax purposes.

Dependent children KIDS8990

Student had child(ren) living in household when he or she first began postsecondary education in 1989-90.

Single parent status SING8990

Students were considered single parents if they reported having child(ren) but were never married, divorced, widowed, or separated when they first began postsecondary education in 1989-90.

GED recipient or high school completion certificate H_HSDIP

Student received a GED (General Education Development) certificate or a certificate of high school completion.

Nontraditional scale ATRS8990

Represents an index based on the sum of seven nontraditional characteristics:

Delayed enrollment into postsecondary education

Attended on a part-time basis when first began in 1989-90

Financially independent in 1989-90 according to federal income tax criteria

Had children living in household in 1989-90

Worked full time while enrolled during any period of 1989-90 enrollment

Single parent in 1989-90

GED or high school completion certificate

Traditional -- No nontraditional characteristics

Minimally nontraditional -- 1 nontraditional characteristic

Moderately nontraditional -- 2 or 3 nontraditional characteristics

Highly nontraditional -- 4 or more nontraditional characteristics

Persistence and Attainment Variables

Initial degree objective GOAL8990

Student's reported degree objective when first enrolled in 1989-90. This variable was used to subset the BPS sample so that only students with a specific degree objective were included in the persistence and attainment analysis.

Certificate -- Student reported working toward a certificate or formal award other than an associate's or bachelor's degree.

Associate's degree -- Student reported working toward an associate's degree.

Bachelor's degree -- Student reported working toward a bachelor's degree.

Overall persistence and attainment in postsecondary education PERACUM

Refers to persistence and attainment toward any degree as of spring 1994.

Attained degree -- Student had attained any degree.

No degree, enrolled -- Student had not attained a degree and was enrolled.

No degree, not enrolled -- Student had not attained a degree and was not enrolled.

Persistence and attainment toward specific degree

Represents the persistence and attainment patterns of students according to specific degree objectives. Students who ever reported the objective were classified for that degree variable. Therefore, some students were classified for more than one degree. For example, if a student began with a bachelor's degree objective and had not attained the degree as of 1994, it was determined whether the student had reported a new degree intention, such as an associate's degree, subsequent to the bachelor's degree objective. If so, that student would be coded as having changed objectives for the bachelor's degree variable and also classified according to his or her status toward an associate's degree. For students who ever specified a degree, but had not attained it by 1994, they were coded in one of three ways: enrolled toward the degree in 1994, not enrolled toward the degree in 1994 and never changed degree objective, or changed degree objective. Students classified as having changed their degree objective may or may not be enrolled in the spring of 1994.

Associate's degree PERAAA

Bachelor's degree PERABA

Certificate PERACT

Attained degree -- Student had attained the degree objective as of spring 1994.

Enrolled toward degree objective -- Student was enrolled toward the degree as of spring 1994.

Not enrolled, never changed -- Student had not attained the degree objective, had degree objective never changed degree objective, and was not enrolled in postsecondary education in spring 1994.

Changed degree objective -- Student had not attained the reported degree objective, was no longer working toward this degree, but had subsequently enrolled toward a different degree objective. Students in this category were also classified according to the new degree objective.

Timing of departure from the persistence track LEFTYR

Academic year the student first departed from the "persistence track." Persistence track refers to enrollment continuity and is defined as uninterrupted year-to-year enrollment at the institution level the student first enrolled. A departure from the persistence track is defined in one of three ways: a downward transfer (e.g., from a 4-year to a 2-year institution, or from a 2-year to a less-than-2-year institution) with or without an enrollment interruption, an interruption in enrollment of more than 4 months and returning to the same or higher level institution (stopout), or leaving school and not returning as of the spring 1994 followup. LEFTYR identifies a student's persistence track status and the academic year of a nonpersister's first departure. Note that this variable is not connected to a specific degree objective, but in the report is presented according to students' initial degree objectives. It is possible that students identified as persisters may have either attained or be working toward a degree other than the initial objective. For example, if a student enrolled in a 4-year college with a bachelor's degree objective earned an associate's degree at the same level institution and never interrupted his or her enrollment, that student would be classified as a persister.

Persisted (no interruption) -- Student did not depart from the persistence track.

First year departure -- Student's first departure from the persistence track occurred during the 1989-90 academic year.

Second year departure -- Student's first departure from the persistence track occurred during the 1990-91 academic year.

Third year departure -- Student's first departure from the persistence track occurred during the 1991-92 academic year.

Fourth year departure -- Student's first departure from the persistence track occurred during the 1992-93 academic year.

Fifth year departure -- Student's first departure from the persistence track occurred during the 1993-94 academic year.

First type of departure from the persistence track LEFTPT

The manner in which student first departed from enrollment persistence track (see LEFTYR above) among those who ever departed.

Downward transfer -- Before degree attainment or last enrollment student transferred to a lower level institution (with or without a break in enrollment continuity).

Stopout -- Before degree attainment or last enrollment student left and re-enrolled at the same or higher level of institution after a period of more than 4 months.

Left without return -- Before degree attainment or last enrollment student left school and had not re-enrolled in postsecondary education as of spring 1994.

Institutional Characteristics

Level of institution

Aggregates level and control of institution according to level. For the BPS survey, level refers to the first institution attended.

NPSAS:87/90/93 LEVEL

BPS:90/94 OFCO899O

Less-than-2-year -- An institution whose normal program of study is less than 2 years in duration.
2-year -- An institution whose program of study results in an award or degree below the baccalaureate level, and is at least 2 years but less than 4 years in duration. These institutions include many community and junior colleges.

4-year -- An institution that offers 4-year baccalaureate degrees. These institutions may or may not also offer master's, doctoral, or first-professional degrees in one or more programs as the highest degree awarded.

Control of institution

Aggregates level and control of institution according to control. For BPS, control refers to first institution attended.

NPSAS:87/90/93 CONTROL

BPS:90/94 OFCO8990

Public -- A postsecondary educational institution operated by publicly elected or appointed school officials in which the program and activities are under the control of these officials and that is supported primarily by public funds.

Private, not-for-profit -- A postsecondary educational institution that is controlled by an independent governing board and incorporated under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Private, for-profit -- A postsecondary educational institution that is privately owned and operated as a profit-making enterprise. These institutions include career colleges and proprietary institutions.

Level and control of first institution

NPSAS:87/90 OFCON1

NPSAS:93 SECTOR_B

See definitions above for control and level. The only added information in this variable is whether or not a 4-year institution has a doctoral or first-professional program. Nondoctorate-granting institutions may offer up to a master's degree as their highest award.

Public

Less-than-2-year

2-year

4-year nondoctorate granting

4-year doctorate granting

Private, not-for-profit

Less-than-4-year

4-year nondoctorate granting

4-year doctorate granting

Private, for-profit

Student Characteristics

The following variables were used in the multivariate analysis as independent variables describing student background characteristics. All were taken from the BPS:90/94 DAS.

Gender BPS:90/94 H_GENDER

Male -- Student was male.

Female -- Student was female.

Race-ethnicity of student BPS:90/94 BPSRACE

Asian/Pacific Islander -- A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, or Pacific Islands. This includes people from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippine Islands, Samoa, India, and Vietnam.

Black, non-Hispanic -- A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa, not of Hispanic origin.

Hispanic -- A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South America or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.

American Indian/Alaskan Native -- A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North America and who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community recognition.

White, non-Hispanic -- A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East (except those of Hispanic origin).

Socioeconomic status BPS:90/94 SESPERC

Composite variable combining parent's education and occupation, dependent student's family income, and the existence of a series of material possessions in respondent's home.

Lowest quartile -- Socioeconomic status fell at or below the lowest 25th percentile.

Middle quartiles -- Socioeconomic status fell between the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile.

Highest quartile -- Socioeconomic status fell at or above the 75th percentile.


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