National Study of Non-First-Time Students Shows That Full-Time Enrollment May Not be Appropriate for All
January 21, 2015

The latest findings from the nation’s first effort to benchmark the persistence patterns of non-first-time (NFT) college students indicate that NFT students are less likely to drop out and more likely to complete an associate degree if they combine full-time and part-time enrollment. The findings could renew discussions about the efficacy of mandatory “15 credit per semester” policies at 2-year programs.

The benchmarking initiative is a cooperative effort between the ACE, InsideTrack, NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), and the National Student Clearinghouse. It is designed to begin addressing the lack of publicly available data on the success of adults returning to college.

The new results, which will be presented today at the Summit for Online Leadership & Strategy hosted by UPCEA and ACE, also show some interesting shifts in state-level completion rates and enrollment patterns for NFT students.

For instance, Delaware, Iowa, Idaho, New Hampshire and Utah saw a decline in relative outcomes, but Washington DC saw the biggest loss (+20.8 percent above to -0.2 percent).  Arkansas, Arizona, California, Illinois, Nevada and Oregon improved relative outcomes; but only Arizona and Illinois improved AND are above average (Arizona went from +2.5 percent to +5.6 percent; Illinois went from -7.0 percent to +1.8 percent).

For more information on the study, click here.

The four organizations that launched this initiative will continue their analysis of the data through February 2015 and then release the entire dataset to the public.

“Improving our higher education system is in everyone’s interest, and we are looking forward to sharing further findings and all of the data with the entire higher education community and the general public,” said Deborah Seymour, assistant vice president of ACE’s Center for Education Attainment and Innovation. “We collectively invested in this project so that students, institutions, and other critical stakeholders might benefit from its outputs.”

The group will release the dataset via the members’ websites in early March and hold discussions on the data and its implications at the following events: