August’s Mess Hall presentation was delivered by SPS Graduate Student and GRC Fellow Miranda Quinn. On August 4th, she discussed preliminary findings from her master’s capstone project, which investigated persistence and attrition among non-traditional students. Understanding the factors associated with students who persist and those who drop out is important, given the obstacles that student debt pose for financial security and stability for recent college graduates.
Between 2002 and 2012, college enrollment increased 24 percent, from 16.6 million to 20.6 million. During that time period, the number of part-time students rose 19 percent. Between 2000 and 2012, the enrollment of students under age 25 and the enrollment of those age 25 and over both increased by 35 percent. From 2012 to 2023, however, The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) projects the rate of increase for students under age 25 at 12 percent, compared with 20 percent for students age 25 and over. Of 20.6 million students enrolled in Fall 2012, 38 percent of students were enrolled in post-secondary education part-time.
- Students who worked 0-30 hours per week during the fall of the first year of enrollment were more likely to obtain education credentials. Working more than 31 hours per week while enrolled has a negative association with degree completion
- Students who enrolled in post-secondary education 0-18 months after high school graduation were more likely to obtain education credentials. Having more than 19 months between high school graduation and post-secondary entry has a negative association with degree completion.
- Students who were enrolled part-time for full or part of the first academic year were less likely to obtain education credentials. Part-time enrollment was negatively associated with degree completion.
- Students who had children were less likely to obtain credentials. Having dependents is negatively associated with degree completion.
In addition to multivariate analyses, Quinn intends to add interviews of key informants to her study, to determine the influence that contextual and individual factors have on students persisting to degree completion or dropping out.