Completion rates rise again

Source: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, "Signature Report: Completing College: A National View of Student Completion Rates — Fall 2012 Cohort," December 2018.

The completion rate for community college students continues to edge up, but almost half of the students tracked over a six-year period were no longer enrolled at any college, according to a new report.

For nearly one-third of students who enrolled in college in 2012, the journey started at a public two-year college, according to the report from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Research Center. Of those students, 39 percent completed a degree — either at the college or another institution — within six years.

Of those who completed a degree, 71 percent did so at the college where they started. About 29 percent did so at another institution.

About 46 percent of students who started at a public two-year college were no longer enrolled by the end of the six-year period studied.

Overall figures

The overall completion rate of full- and part-time students at all colleges and universities also increased again, by 1.5 percentage points, reaching about 58 percent, which is the highest rate since the NSC Research Center started tracking the data six years ago.

The completion rate grew across the board for all students regardless of gender, race and ethnicity, age or enrollment intensity, the center said in a press release.

“Coming on top of last year’s gains, these across-the-board improvements are some of the most encouraging data on student success that we’ve seen in a long time,” said Doug Shapiro, the center’s executive director. “Retention and completion rates have increased because students have access to more of the programs, tools and support they need to succeed.”

Rates among races

Similar to patterns among students who started at four-year institutions, Asian students who started at public two-year colleges had the highest completion rate of 49 percent, followed by whites at 48 percent.

Hispanic students had a completion rate of about 36 percent, and black students had a completion rate of about 28 percent. Despite the lower figures among Hispanics and blacks, they do represent substantial increases in completion rates, the report noted.

More than half of black students (55 percent) who started at a public two-year college were not enrolled at any institution at the end of the study period. The “stop-out” rates among Hispanic and white students were at about 43 percent and 39 percent, respectively. Among Asian students, the stop-out rate was the lowest, at 29 percent.

“Both two-year and four-year institutions should continue to engage in and design programs to address the minority achievement gap,” the study said.

More than a quarter (26 percent) of Asian students who started at a public two-year college and 21 percent of white students completed a four-year degree within six years. The rates were lower among Hispanic and black students, 13 percent and about 10 percent, respectively.

Among Asian students, more students completed at a four-year institution without first completing a degree or certificate at their starting two-year college. The same pattern was seen among black students. It was about even among white students. Hispanic students who earned a four-year degree were more likely to have earned a certificate or degree from their starting two-year college than without one.

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