Student Flow by College Type Preference

Chart showing Student Flow in Year 1 and 2 of College by College Type Preference

Graph reads: 96% of college-persisting ACT-tested students who preferred a 2-year college and attended a 2-year college in their first year attended a 2-year college in their second year.

Note: Based on 88% of college-persisting ACT-tested high school graduates from the class of 2012 for whom college type preference is available.

The above diagram shows the flow of students in the first two years of college by their college type preference and the type of college or colleges they attended. This view is limited to college-persisting ACT-tested students who provided a college type preference at the time of ACT registration.

  • Of those ACT-tested students who persisted to the second year, 5% preferred a 2-year college, 75% preferred a 4-year public college, and 20% preferred a 4-year private college.
  • Within each college preference type, the majority of students attended a college that matched their preference in the first year (70%, 65%, and 57% for students with a 2-year, 4-year public, and 4-year private college preference, respectively).
  • In their second year, the vast majority of persisting students attended the same college type as they did in their first year, regardless of their college type preference.
  • Among students who initially attended a 2-year college in their first year, students who preferred a 2-year college were more likely to attend this college type in their second year than those who did not prefer this type of college (96%, 89%, and 85% for students who preferred a 2-year, 4-year public, and 4-year private college, respectively).
  • Among students who initially attended a 4-year private college in their first year, students who preferred a 4-year private college were more likely to attend this college type in their second year than those who did not have this college type preference (94%, 86%, and 85% for students who preferred a 4-year private, 4-year public, and 2-year college, respectively).
  • Among students who initially attended a 4-year public college in their first year, students who preferred a 4-year public college were more likely to attend this college type in their second year than those who preferred a 2-year college, and they were slightly less likely to attend this college type in their second year than those who preferred a 4-year private college (93%, 88%, and 94% for students who preferred a 4-year public, 2-year, and 4-year private college, respectively).

Percent of Transferring Students Who Attended a College That Matched Their College Type Preference by Year of College

  • Among transfer students who preferred a 2-year college, similar percentages of students attended a 2-year college in the first year and in the second year. This means that roughly one of these students transferred from another college type to a 2-year college for every one of these students that transferred from a 2-year college to another college type.
  • Among transfer students who preferred either a 4-year public or a 4-year private college, smaller percentages of students attended these college types in the second year than in the first year. This means that more of these students transferred out of these college types than transferred into these college types in their second year.
Chart showing Percent of Transferring Students Who Attended a College That Matched Their College Type Preference by Year of College

Graph reads: Of those college-transferring ACT-tested students who preferred a 2-year college, 60% attended a 2-year college in their first year and 61% attended a 2-year college in their second year.

Type PreferenceYear 1Year 2
2-year60%61%
Public 4-year57%47%
Private 4-year49%27%

Note: Based on 89% of college-transferring ACT-tested high school graduates from the class of 2012 for whom college type preference is available.


Percent of Transferring Students Who Transfer to and Away from College Type Preference

  • Compared to transfer students who preferred a 4-year college, those who preferred a 2-year college were more likely to both initially attend and transfer to another college that matched their college type preference (see the blue-colored bars), and they were also more likely than their peers to transfer from a college that did not match their college type preference to a college that matched their preference (see the orange-colored bars).
  • These differences are also evident between transfer students who preferred a 4-year public college and those who preferred a 4-year private college.
Chart showing Percent of Transferring Students Who Transfer to and Away from College Type Preference

Graph reads: Of those college-transferring ACT-tested students who preferred a 2-year college, 25% transferred from a 4-year college (17% from a 4-year public college and 8% from a 4-year private college) in their first year to a 2-year college in their second year.

Type PreferenceMatch to MatchMismatch to MatchMismatch to MismatchMatch to Mismatch
2-year36%25%15%24%
Public 4-year26%21%22%31%
Private 4-year15%13%39%34%

Note: Based on 89% of college-transferring ACT-tested high school graduates from the class of 2012 for whom college type preference is available.