Skip Navigation
PEDAR: Executive Summary  Waiting to Attend College: Students Who Delay Their Postsecondary Enrollment
An Overview of Delaye Entrants
High School Dropout Risk Factors and Academic Preparation
Duration of Delay
Student Characteristics
Enrollment Characteristics
Why They Enrolled
Overall Persistence and Attainment
Research Methodology
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)

The NELS data provide evidence of notable differences between delayed and immediate entrants with respect to their high school academic experiences. The analysis examined 1992 high school graduates who enrolled in postsecondary education by 2000, the time of the last NELS follow-up, and focused on three measures of academic preparation—highest mathematics course completed,5 the overall academic intensity of students’ high school curriculum,6 and their college readiness.7 In all three measures delayed entrants trailed their counterparts who did not delay.

In mathematics coursetaking, one-quarter of delayed entrants completed courses no higher than those identified as nonacademic (such as remedial or business mathematics), compared with 7 percent of immediate entrants (figure F). Conversely, nearly half of immediate entrants (49 percent) completed an advanced mathematics course (i.e., beyond algebra 2), compared with 15 percent of delayed entrants.

Substantial differences between the two groups were also evident when examining the overall intensity or rigor of students’ high school curriculum. One-quarter of delayed entrants scored in the bottom 20 percent of the academic intensity measure, compared with 8 percent of immediate entrants (figure G). Conversely, 29 percent of immediate entrants scored in the top 20 percent, compared with 7 percent of delayed entrants.

Consistent with their lower levels of academic preparation, nearly 6 in 10 delayed entrants (59 percent) were not academically prepared to undertake 4-year college-level work (figure H). The same was found for one-quarter of immediate entrants. Moreover, for those students who were qualified, 1 in 10 delayed entrants were in the top 25 percent, compared with just over 4 in 10 (44 percent) of immediate entrants.

next section