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Introduction Chapter 1: Precollege Education Chapter 3: Undergraduate Degrees Chapter 4: Graduate Enrollment Chapter 5: Graduate Degrees Chapter 6: Employment Technical Notes Appendix Tables
Chapter Contents:
Overview
Enrollment rates
Demographics
Enrollment status
Two-year institutions
Four-year institutions
Field choice
Engineering enrollment
Financial aid
Retention
References
 
Sidebars
Appendix Tables
List of Figures
Presentation Slides

Undergraduate Enrollment

Retention

Women
Minorities
Students with disabilities

Some of the factors related to persistence in undergraduate education are age, enrollment status, socioeconomic status, and level (i.e., 2 year versus 4 year) of first institution. Those entering postsecondary education at age 17 or 18 are more likely to complete a bachelor's degree in 5 years than those entering at older ages. Those who initially enroll on a full-time basis are more likely to complete their degree than those enrolled part time.[7] Students from families with higher income and higher level of parental education are more likely to complete their degree than those whose families have lower incomes and less education. And those who begin undergraduate programs in 4-year institutions are more likely to attain a bachelor's degree within 5 years than those who begin in 2-year institutions (U.S. ED/NCES 1998).

All of these factors are related to differences in undergraduate retention by race/ethnicity. Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians are less likely than whites and Asians to complete college. Blacks enter college at older ages. Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians are more likely than whites and Asians to come from low-income families. Hispanics are more likely than members of other groups to begin undergraduate programs in 2-year institutions.

Women  top of page

Women and men are about equally likely to graduate from college. Among those who were 25 to 29 years old in 2000 and had completed high school, 34 percent of women and 32 percent of men had earned a bachelor's degree or higher. (See appendix table 2-1.)

Women are more likely than men to complete a bachelor's degree within 5 years. Among students who entered a bachelor's degree program in 1989, 50 percent of women compared to 41 percent of men had earned a bachelor's degree by spring 1994.[8] (See appendix table 2-14.) Additionally, a higher percentage of men than of women (31 versus 26 percent) had earned no degree and were no longer enrolled toward a bachelor's degree 5 years later.

Data from the Higher Education Research Institute and the National Center for Education Statistics suggest that women do not have higher attrition from S&E programs than do men. The percentage of freshmen women intending S&E majors in 1994 (27 percent) is close to the percentage earning S&E bachelor's degrees in 1998 (28 percent). (See appendix table 2-15.) Furthermore, longitudinal data indicate that higher percentages of female than of male S&E students in academic year 1989/90 completed degrees in science and engineering by 1994, and a lower percentage of female than of male S&E students switched out of science and engineering during this time (U.S. ED/NCES 2000b).

Minorities  top of page

Blacks and Hispanics are less likely than whites to graduate from college. Among those who were 25 to 29 years old in 2000 and had completed high school, 21 percent of blacks and 15 percent of Hispanics, compared to 36 percent of whites, had earned bachelor's degrees or higher. (See appendix table 2-1.) Small sample sizes in the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey do not permit reporting of data on the educational attainment of Asians and American Indians.

Black and Hispanic students are less likely than their white and Asian counterparts to complete a bachelor's degree within 5 years. Forty-eight percent of whites, 47 percent of Asians, 34 percent of blacks, and 32 percent of Hispanics who entered a baccalaureate program in 1989 had earned their degree by spring 1994. Thirty-seven percent of both black and Hispanic students, compared with 27 percent of white students and 26 percent of Asian students, had earned no degree and were no longer enrolled in a bachelor's program in 1994. (See appendix table 2-14.) Again, small sample sizes do not permit reporting of data on the undergraduate persistence and attainment of American Indian students.

Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians do not appear to have higher attrition rates vis-à-vis science and engineering than whites. About 30 to 35 percent of white, black, Hispanic, and American Indian freshmen intended S&E majors in 1994. Similarly, about 30 to 35 percent of white, black, Hispanic, and American Indian bachelor's recipients in 1998 received their degrees in these fields. (See appendix table 2-15.) Longitudinal data show little difference by race/ethnicity for blacks, Hispanics, and whites in natural science and engineering enrollment rates[9] across 5 academic years from 1989/90 through 1993/94—approximately 17 percent (U.S. ED/NCES 2000b).

Students with disabilities  top of page

Students with disabilities are less likely than those without to be enrolled in a bachelor's degree program or to have earned a bachelor's degree within 5 years. Fifty-three percent of students with disabilities who were enrolled in the 1989/90 academic year were still enrolled or had attained a degree by 1994, compared with 64 percent of those without disabilities. (See appendix table 2-16 and appendix A for question wording.) Conversely, a higher proportion of those with disabilities (47 percent) than of those without (36 percent) had left college without earning a degree or certificate.




Footnotes

[7]  The source publication (U.S. ED/NCES 1998) does not indicate whether there is any interaction between age and enrollment status in persistence in undergraduate education.

[8]  These data are from the National Center for Education Statistics Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study, which followed a group of students first enrolled in undergraduate institutions in the 1989/90 school year through 1994. The data permit comparisons by sex, race/ethnicity, and disability status in persistence toward a bachelor's degree.

[9]  Defined as enrollment in science and engineering (excluding the social sciences and psychology) divided by total undergraduate enrollment.

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