Information Brief 2012-18

College Degree Completion Status at Year 7

among ACT-tested high school graduates who immediately enrolled in a four-year institution

For seven years, we tracked the progress of a group of ACT-tested 2003 high school graduates who enrolled in a four-year college in fall 2003. This brief focuses on the degree completion status of these students seven years later (through academic year 2009–2010).

As shown below, 35% of the students had completed a bachelor’s degree by the end of year 4, and another 30% had done so by the end of year 7—a total bachelor’s degree completion rate of nearly two-thirds (65%). An additional 4% of students had completed an associate’s degree, as their highest degree earned, by the end of year 7. Almost one-third of students who had not completed a degree (which is 10% of all students) were still enrolled in college seven years later.

Year 7 Degree Completion Status

Degree Completion StatusPercent
Bachelor's degree by year 435
Bachelor's degree year 5 to 730
Associate's degree only4
No degree, but still enrolled10
No degree, not enrolled22

Note: Percentages do not sum to 100 due to rounding. Based on National Student Clearinghouse data for a stratified random sample of 18,860 ACT-tested 2003 high school graduates who enrolled in a four-year college in fall 2003. The sample was weighted to be representative of the entire 2003 ACT-tested graduating class who immediately enrolled in college. For students enrolled in multiple institutions in fall 2003, initial institution type was based on the institution from which the student ultimately earned the highest degree by the end of the seven-year study and/or in which the student had enrolled for the greatest number of fall terms during the study. In the sample, less than 1 percent of the students were initially enrolled in more than one institution. Degree certificates were not examined for this study.

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