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Chapter 8: Multivariate Analyses of Immediate Postsecondary Enrollment and Degree Attainment

The discussion of immediate postsecondary enrollment among 2004 high school seniors and degree attainment of 2004 beginning postsecondary students (see indicators 34 and 37, respectively) demonstrated a number of bivariate relationships between these outcome measures and students' sex and race/ethnicity. For example, among 2004 high school seniors, a higher percentage of females than males immediately enrolled in a postsecondary institution after graduating from high school (77 vs. 71 percent). Lower percentages of American Indians/Alaska Natives (60 percent), Hispanics (65 percent), Blacks (69 percent), and students of two or more races (65 percent) than Whites (77 percent) and Asians (86 percent) enrolled in postsecondary education immediately after high school graduation. Also, a higher percentage of 200304 beginning postsecondary female students than male students had attained some type of postsecondary degree (i.e., certificate, associate's, or bachelor's) by June 2009 (52 vs. 46 percent). The percentages of Blacks (37 percent), American Indian/Alaska Natives (38 percent), Hispanics (41 percent), and students of two or more races (47 percent) who attained some type of postsecondary degree were lower than the percentages of Whites (54 percent) and Asians (58 percent) who attained a degree.

These bivariate analyses compare the overall percentages for different groups of students without adjusting for student background characteristics. One of the limitations of bivariate analyses is that they compare information across groups without taking into account the influence of other factors that may also be related to differences. Multivariate analyses, such as logistic multiple regression models, provide information on whether group differences persist after controlling for other student, family, and school/institutional characteristics. This chapter presents results from two sets of logistic regression analyses that can provide answers to questions about postsecondary enrollment and degree attainment, such as "How is a high school student's participation in extracurricular activities associated with immediate enrollment in a postsecondary institution, holding other factors, such as socioeconomic status, constant?"

The purpose of this chapter is to identify student, family, and school/institutional factors that are significantly associated with the odds that a student will immediately enroll in a postsecondary institution after completing high school and the odds that a student will attain an associate's or bachelor's degree within 6 years of beginning postsecondary enrollment. By conducting separate logistic regression models for the overall sample as well as for each subgroup, associations between student characteristics and the two outcome variables can be presented for the full sample as well as separately for males and females; separately for Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics; and separately for males and females within each of these racial/ethnic groups. When attempting to examine the significance of interactions between variables, the nature of the survey data available for the analyses (e.g., smaller sample sizes for minority males and females, low variance on some independent groups for some of the smaller subgroups) yielded poor results and precluded the use of interaction terms in the final models. Multivariate analyses were not conducted for Asians, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, or American Indians/Alaska Natives due to small sample sizes. Also, for the Black male and female and Hispanic male and female subgroup models, some of the results that appear to be substantive in magnitude are not statistically significant due to small subgroup sample sizes.

The variables included as predictors and covariates for each analysis are supported by previous research and reflect many of the factors included in the indicator chapters of this report. To identify early indicators that may assist policymakers and practitioners in developing intervention strategies, the analyses used base year covariates to the greatest extent possible. As noted in the chapter introductions, many studies have documented the associations between student background variables (e.g., poverty, family income, and parents' education) and educational outcomes (e.g., postsecondary enrollment, persistence, and attainment rates) as well as between student behavior (e.g., grade retention, student employment, and participation in sports and extracurricular activities) and educational outcomes. Some studies have shown that higher rates of postsecondary persistence and degree attainment are associated with such student characteristics as strong academic achievement in high school, immediate entry into postsecondary education after high school, full-time and continuous enrollment, academic and social engagement with faculty and peers, working part time for less than 15 hours a week while enrolled, and beginning at a 4-year institution instead of a 2-year community college (see Pascarella and Terenzini [2005] for a comprehensive review of the research).