Small gains in persistence

For students who started college in fall 2017 at two-year public institutions, the persistence rate was 62.3 percent, up 0.1 percentage point from the prior cohort year, and up 1.3 percentage points in comparison to the fall 2009 cohort, according to a new report.

The persistence rate was 69.7 percent for those who entered college on a full-time basis, compared to 56.3 percent for their part-time counterparts, says the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s “Persistence and Retention Snapshot Report.” The persistence rate is measured by the percentage of students who return to college at any institution for their second year.

Among students who entered college at two-year public institutions in fall 2017, Asian students had the highest persistence rate at 72.9 percent, followed by white students (67.1 percent) and Hispanic students (62.1 percent). Black students had the lowest rate (55.3 percent).

Many community college students are not continuous enrollees, the report notes. They may return in the winter term of the second year after a “stop-out” and are not included in the center’s measure of fall-to-fall persistence.

“Measuring persistence through a winter term may offer a more complete picture for sub-baccalaureate programs,” the center says.

Overall, of the 3.5 million students who enrolled in college for the first time in fall 2017, 74 percent or 2.6 million students persisted as of fall 2018. That rate has improved slightly, with a 2.2 percentage point gain between 2009 and 2017.

Among the top five fields of study

New to this year’s report are the persistence rates for the top five popular major fields in baccalaureate, associate-degree and certificate programs.

In the top five popular majors at associate-degree colleges, first-year persistence rates ranged from a low of 57.3 percent (in security protection services) to a high of 66 percent (in liberal arts, humanities and general studies).

The persistence rates for the top five popular majors in undergraduate certificate programs were below 60 percent, except for students in liberal arts, humanities and general studies majors (62 percent). The lowest persistence rate was 55.9 percent for health-related majors.

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