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BPS: Executive Summary Descriptive Summary of 1995-96 Beginning Postsecondary Students: Six Years Later
Types of Institutions Attended
Degree Completion Among Students Beginning at Public 2-Year Institutions
Types of Bachelor's Degree Completion Rates for Students Beginning at 4-Year Institutions
Rates of Completion at the First Institution Attended Versus at any 4-Year Institution
Rates Based on Different Subcategories of Students
Focus on Students With a Bachelor's Degree Goal at 4-Year Institutions
Degree Completion and Transfer From the First Institution Attended
Number of Years to Complete a Degree at Different Types of Institutions
Differences in Completion Rate by Enrollment Patterns and Student Characteristics
Profile of 1995-96 Beginners Who Completed a Bachelor's Degree by June 2001
Summary and Conclusion
Research Methodology
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)
Profile of 1995-96 Beginners Who Completed A Bachelor's Degree By June 2001

A number of factors have been shown to put students at risk of not completing their degree programs. Two of the most important ones are part-time enrollment and delaying entry into postsecondary education after high school. Other factors are not having a regular high school diploma, having children, being a single parent, being financially independent of parents, and working full time while enrolled. In prior studies, a persistence risk index was developed based on the number of these adverse characteristics (Horn 1996). All of these risk factors are also associated with “nontraditional” students, and the more risk factors a student has, the more nontraditional the student may be considered to be. Conversely, students with none of the risk factors may be considered to be highly traditional students: they enroll immediately after receiving a high school diploma, attend full time in the first year, are financially dependent on their parents, and work part time or not at all while enrolled.

Beginners who started at 4-year institutions in 1995–96 were predominantly traditional students: most of them had entered college without delay after high school, and most had none of the characteristics associated with a high risk of not completing a degree. This pattern is reflected in the profile of those college graduates who started at a 4-year institution in 1995–96 and had completed a bachelor’s degree by June 2001: 91 percent had entered college immediately after high school, and 86 percent had no persistence risk factors when they first enrolled in 1995–96.

Students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree within 4 years were well prepared when they entered college. More than one-half had received mostly A’s in high school (62 percent) or had SAT test scores in the highest quartile among college freshmen (56 percent), and 30 percent had taken two or more AP tests. Women represented a majority (62 percent) of the college graduates who started at a 4-year institution in 1995–96 and completed a bachelor’s degree in the expected 4-year period.

Students who began at public 2-year institutions were more likely to be nontraditional students than those who began at 4-year institutions. Almost one-half of the beginners at public 2-year institutions had delayed starting college after high school, and about one-half had two or more persistence risk factors when they started. Traditional students (those with no risk factors when they began) represented about one-half (56 percent) of the bachelor’s degree recipients who had transferred from public 2-year institutions. The other half were nontraditional students who began their education in 1995–96 with a higher risk of not completing a degree at all, but had been able to enter a bachelor’s degree program via a community college.

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