Information Brief 2012-26

How Are College Enrollment and Persistence Related to College Readiness?

The ACT College Readiness Benchmarks indicate readiness for credit-bearing, first-year college coursework in English composition, social sciences courses, algebra, and biology. The Benchmarks also provide insight on the likelihood a student will enroll in college and, once enrolled, the likelihood the student will stay in college.

The chart below shows how college readiness relates to persistence in college for ACT-tested 2003 high school graduates who immediately enrolled in a four-year college (“four-year students”) or in a two-year college (“two-year students”) the fall following high school graduation.

  • Students who met more of the Benchmarks were more likely to remain continuously enrolled in college than those who met fewer Benchmarks.
  • The finding held true for both four-year and two-year students.

Percentage of Students Remaining Continuously Enrolled in College through Year 4, by Number of ACT College Readiness Benchmarks Attained*

Number of Benchmarks MetFour-Year StudentsTwo-Year Students
062%38%
169%43%
274%49%
380%54%
484%59%

* Based on data from a random sample of 24,850 ACT-tested 2003 high school graduates who enrolled in college in fall 2003 (18,860 four-year students and 5,990 two-year students). Enrollment information was obtained from the National Student Clearinghouse. Persistence was based on annual fall re-enrollment in any college; rates were model-based estimates.

† Based on data from approximately 1.1 million ACT-tested 2003 high school graduates who provided a valid high school code from one of the fifty US states or the District of Columbia. Immediate college enrollment rates were model-based estimates.

For a more detailed description of the study, see the full ACT Research Report 2012-2.

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