Information Brief 2012-25

Degree Completion Status by Second-Year Re-Enrollment Status

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

For seven years, we tracked the progress of a group of ACT-tested 2003 high school graduates who enrolled in a two-year college in fall 2003. This brief focuses on the degree completion status of these students seven years later (through academic year 2009–2010) in relation to the students’ re-enrollment status one year after starting college (in fall 2004).

As shown below:

  • Students who returned to the same initial two-year institution in fall 2004 were more likely to complete a bachelor’s or an associate’s degree by the end of year 7 than students who re-enrolled in a different two-year institution in year 2.
  • Students who re-enrolled in a four-year institution in fall 2004 were more likely to complete a bachelor’s degree by the end of year 7 than students who re-enrolled in any two-year institution in year 2, and substantially more likely to do so than students who did not re-enroll in any institution in year 2.
  • A majority of students who re-enrolled in a four-year institution in fall 2004 and completed a bachelor’s degree bypassed earning an associate’s degree.
  • Of students who did not re-enroll in any institution in fall 2004, 70% were not enrolled in any institution during year 7 and had not completed a degree.

Year 7 Degree Completion Status by Year 2 Re-Enrollment Status

Returned to Same Two-Year Institution in Fall 2004
(62% of 2003 Enrollees)
Degree Completion StatusPercent
Associate's and bachelor's degrees14
Bachelor's degree only15
Associate's degree only23
No degree, but still enrolled15
No degree, not enrolled34
Enrolled in a Different Two-Year Institution in Fall 2004
(4% of 2003 Enrollees)
Degree Completion StatusPercent
Associate's and bachelor's degrees5
Bachelor's degree only14
Associate's degree only18
No degree, but still enrolled20
No degree, not enrolled43
Enrolled in a Four-Year Institution in Fall 2004
(8% of 2003 Enrollees)
Degree Completion StatusPercent
Associate's and bachelor's degrees5
Bachelor's degree only49
Associate's degree only7
No degree, but still enrolled13
No degree, not enrolled26
Did Not Enroll in Fall 2004
(26% of 2003 Enrollees)
Degree Completion StatusPercent
Associate's and bachelor's degrees1
Bachelor's degree only4
Associate's degree only6
No degree, but still enrolled18
No degree, not enrolled70

Note: Percentages do not always sum to 100 due to rounding. Based on National Student Clearinghouse data for a stratified random sample of 5,990 ACT-tested 2003 high school graduates who enrolled in a two-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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