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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 results of this study demonstrate that students who delay their postsecondary enrollment a year or more after high school graduation differ fundamentally from those who enroll immediately. Early on, delayed entrants are more likely to have family and educational experiences that place them at greater risk of not completing their postsecondary education. When delayed entrants enroll in postsecondary education, they do so primarily to gain or enhance their work skills and tend to enroll in shorter term vocational programs rather than in bachelor’s degree programs.

Yet delayed entrants are not a homogenous group. Who they are and what kinds of postsecondary programs they pursue varied with how long they waited to enroll. In general, the findings from this study indicated that as the length of delay increased, students were more likely to be White, less likely to be in the lowest income group, and more likely to enroll in programs leading to vocational certificates.

While delayed entrants as a whole were much less likely than immediate entrants to complete a postsecondary degree or to remain enrolled for 6 years, results of the multivariate analysis indicate that students who delayed the shortest amount of time—no more than 1 year after high school graduation—remained significantly less likely than immediate entrants to complete a degree, while the results for those who delayed longer were not significant. Students who delay no more than a year are typically 19 years old when they enroll in college and about 1 in 5 already have children. Nevertheless, despite their relative disadvantages, 43 percent of students who delayed their enrollment no more than 1 year had successfully completed a postsecondary credential, including one-fifth who earned a bachelor’s degree in 6 years.

Research Methodology