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Access and Persistence Findings From 10 Years of Longitudinal Research on Students

To answer questions about who goes to college, who persists toward a degree or credential, and what happens to students after they enroll, the National Center for Education Statistics launched three national longitudinal studies to track students movements into and through the postsecondary education system. These three surveys, the National Education Longitudinal Study, the Beginning Postsecondary Student Longitudinal Study, and the Baccalaureate and Beyond Study, provide findings about college access, student characteristics, and academic persistence. College students today are a diverse group; 30% are minorities, 20% were born outside of the United States or have a parent who was, and 11% spoke a language other than English while growing up. Only 40% of college students fit the traditional mold of enrolling immediately after high school and depending on their parents to take care of financial responsibilities. About three-quarters of all four-year college students now earn a paycheck, and about one-quarter work full time. A young persons likelihood of attending a four-year college increases with the level of their parents education. More at-risk students apply to college if their friends plan to go, but the price of attending college is still a significant obstacle for students from low- and middle-income families. Financial aid is an equalizer to some degree. Most students who leave college enroll again within 6 years, but many enroll in other institutions. As a result, the records of individual institutions often understate the overall postsecondary persistence.


Choy, S. (2002). Access and Persistence: Findings From 10 Years of Longitudinal Research on Students. Washington, DC: American Council on Education.