College Persistence

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Though enrolling in college is a critical first step toward attaining a degree, students face numerous obstacles while enrolled, such as struggling with challenging coursework or financial difficulties. The likelihood that students overcome these barriers depends on factors such as family educational background, financial resources, and their academic preparation. In particular, the college preparation that students receive in high school, including curriculum, academic support and guidance counseling, provides an opportunity to equip students for success in college. As a result, high schools represent an important potential policy lever for education leaders interested in improving college persistence.

The interactive figure above displays the share of fall 2011 and 2012 Kentucky public high school seamless college enrollers that persisted into their second year of college. Persistence rates serve as an early indicator of Kentucky public high school students’ progress toward college degree completion. On average, students enrolled in four-year colleges (83%) were more likely to persist to their second year than students enrolled in two-year colleges (61%) (click the "Two- and Four-Year Colleges" checkbox). Overall (click the "Any College" checkbox), as depicted by the large flat portion of the chart, most Kentucky public high schools had overall college persistence rates fairly close to the state average (76%); however, there was more variation at the higher and lower ends of the persistence distribution. Persistence rates differ significantly for students who delay enrollment in college. In contrast to seamless enrollers who persisted at a rate of 77%, only 34% of delayed enrollers returned for a second year of college (analyses not shown).

Use the interactive features of the chart to explore college persistence rates for specific types of colleges.

  • Switch Outcomes: Use the checkboxes below "By Enrolling Institution" to switch between high schools’ persistence rates at any college and high schools’ persistence rates at two-year and four-year colleges.
  • View Tooltip: Hover over a bar to identify the high school it represents, along with the following information about the school: district name, district type, average eighth-grade math KCCT score, college persistence rate, percent of students eligible for free/reduced-price meals, and total number of 2011 and 2012 seamless college enrollers.
  • Select Specific Schools: Click on individual high schools in the sidebar’s "Select a School" drop-down box to explore the average outcomes from particular high schools of interest.
  • Explore by District Type: Use the "Urban County," "Rural County" and "Independent" checkboxes in the sidebar to view schools according to district type.

Example:
Click the "Two- and Four-Year Colleges" checkbox to compare and contrast Kentucky high schools’ persistence rates for students enrolled at two-year and four-year colleges. Among students enrolled in four-year colleges, persistence rates by high school attended ranged from 42% to about 95%, while among students enrolled at two-year colleges, persistence rates by high school ranged from 29% to 85%. These trends suggest that variation in overall persistence rates by high school can be explained in part by the types of colleges students choose to enroll in (two-year vs. four-year), and in part by differences in persistence across the same types of colleges.