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Part-Time Undergraduates in Postsecondary Education: 200304 Postsecondary Education Descriptive Analysis Report

Overall Picture of Part-Time Undergraduates

About 84 percent of undergraduates maintained the same enrollment status throughout the 2003–04 academic year: 49 percent were enrolled exclusively full time and 35 percent were enrolled exclusively part time. The remaining 16 percent changed their enrollment status during the year. According to these enrollment patterns, this report classified students into three groups: exclusively full-time students, exclusively part-time students, and students with mixed enrollment intensity (regardless of whether they started as part-time students and subsequently changed to full-time students or vice versa).

Exclusively part-time students differed from their full-time peers in many respects. Compared with exclusively full-time students, exclusively part-time students tended to be older, female, Hispanic, financially independent, and first- generation students (i.e., their parents did not attend college) (figure A).1 They also tended to come from low-income families (for dependent students), had weaker academic preparation, and had lower expectations for postsecondary education. Students with mixed enrollment intensity typically fell in between these two groups, with some characteristics similar to those of exclusively full-time students (e.g., type of high school diploma and educational expectations) and others similar to those of exclusively part-time students (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity, and remedial coursetaking).

1 All comparisons made in the report were tested using Student’s t statistic. All differences cited were statistically significant at the .05 level unless noted otherwise.