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Are Students Dropping Out or Simply Dragging Out the College Experience? Persistence at the Six-Year Mark

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  • Stratton Leslie S.

    () (Department of Economics, Virginia Commonwealth University, 301 W. Main St. Snead Hall, Richmond, VA 23284-4000, USA, Research Fellow at IZA (Bonn, Germany))

  • Wetzel James N.

    () (Department of Economics, Virginia Commonwealth University, 301 W. Main St. Snead Hall, Richmond, VA 23284-4000, USA)

Abstract

Standard analyses of college outcomes look at six-year graduation rates, treating all non-graduates alike as “failures”. However, we find that 36% of non-graduates are still enrolled. Using micro-level data with rich information on demographic and academic background, we employ a multinomial logit model to distinguish among graduates, persisters, and dropouts six years following matriculation. We find that there are significant differences across these populations. Separate evidence indicates that as many as half of those persisting at the six-year mark will graduate within a few years. Thus, six-year graduation rates understate “success,” but future success is not the same for all groups. Holding academic background constant, reported graduation rates are lower for Hispanics because they are taking longer to graduate and lower for first-generation college students because they are dropping out. The most important factor is academic background, suggesting that increased financial aid is unlikely to substantially increase graduation rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Stratton Leslie S. & Wetzel James N., 2013. "Are Students Dropping Out or Simply Dragging Out the College Experience? Persistence at the Six-Year Mark," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 13(2), pages 1121-1142, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:13:y:2013:i:2:p:1121-1142:n:17
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Vignoles Anna F & Powdthavee Nattavudh, 2009. "The Socioeconomic Gap in University Dropouts," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-36, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Leslie S. Stratton & Nabanita Datta Gupta & David Reimer & Anders Holm, 2017. "Modeling Enrollment in and Completion of Vocational Education: The Role of Cognitive and Non-cognitive Skills by Program Type," University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 20172, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).

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