Information Brief 2012-20

Degree Completion Status at Year 7 by Second-Year Re-Enrollment Status

among ACT-tested high school graduates who immediately enrolled in a four-year institution

For seven years, we tracked the progress of a group of ACT-tested 2003 high school graduates who enrolled in a four-year college in fall 2003. This brief focuses on the degree completion status of these students seven years later (through academic year 2009–2010) in relation to the students’ re-enrollment status one year after starting college (in fall 2004).

As shown below:

  • Students who returned to the same four-year institution in fall 2004 were slightly more likely to complete a bachelor’s degree by the end of year 7 than students who re-enrolled in a different four-year institution in year 2, and they were considerably more likely to do so by year 4.
  • Students who re-enrolled in any four-year institution in the fall of year 2 were about 3 times more likely to complete a bachelor’s degree by the end of year 7 than students who re-enrolled in a two-year institution, and 5 to 6 times more likely to do so than students who did not re-enroll in any institution in the fall of year 2.
  • Of students who re-enrolled in a two-year institution in fall 2004, 40% earned some type of degree within 7 years of enrolling. In comparison, only 18% of students who did not re-enroll in any institution in fall 2004 completed a degree by the end of year 7.

Year 7 Degree Completion Status by Year 2 Re-Enrollment Status

Returned to Same Four-Year Institution in Fall 2004
(77% of 2003 Enrollees)
Degree Completion StatusPercent
Bachelor’s degree by year 442
Bachelor’s degree year 5 to 733
Associate’s degree only3
No degree, but still enrolled7
No degree, not enrolled15
Enrolled in a Different Four-Year Institution in Fall 2004
(6% of 2003 Enrollees)
Degree Completion StatusPercent
Bachelor’s degree by year 428
Bachelor’s degree year 5 to 740
Associate’s degree only5
No degree, but still enrolled9
No degree, not enrolled19
Enrolled in a Two-Year Institution in Fall 2004
(5% of 2003 Enrollees)
Degree Completion StatusPercent
Bachelor’s degree by year 44
Bachelor’s degree year 5 to 719
Associate’s degree only17
No degree, but still enrolled19
No degree, not enrolled41
Did not Enroll in Fall 2004
(12% of 2003 Enrollees)
Degree Completion StatusPercent
Bachelor’s degree by year 42
Bachelor’s degree year 5 to 711
Associate’s degree only5
No degree, but still enrolled20
No degree, not enrolled61

Note: Percentages do not always sum to 100 due to rounding. Based on National Student Clearinghouse data for a stratified random sample of 18,860 ACT-tested 2003 high school graduates who enrolled in a four-year college in fall 2003. The sample was weighted to be representative of the entire 2003 ACT-tested graduating class who immediately enrolled in college. For students enrolled in multiple institutions in fall 2003, initial institution type was based on the institution from which the student ultimately earned the highest degree by the end of the seven-year study and/or in which the student had enrolled for the greatest number of fall terms during the study. In the sample, less than 1 percent of the students were initially enrolled in more than one institution. Degree certificates were not examined for this study.

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