The resources needed to conduct high-quality survey research is often beyond reach for institutional researchers and higher education analysts. However, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides many national student surveys that researchers can utilize instead of deploying their own surveys from scratch. This chapter outlines four NCES studies—the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009, the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study, and Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study—and describes their samples, research questions, and research topics that can be explored using their data. The chapter then explores three ways that researchers can access these data, using case studies as examples of how these modes of access can answer research questions. The chapter also contains an appendix with code for importing data, using weights and estimating variance in R, Stata, SAS, and SPSS.
NCES sample surveys
A practical primer for new users, practitioners, and policymakers