Students Who Don’t Count
By Sara Lipka
The people we tend to call “traditional” students finish high school, march to college, and keep at it until they graduate, more or less on schedule.
National data-collection systems are set up to track the progress of those people: first-time, full-time students who enroll in the fall and get degrees from the places they started, in at most three years for an associate degree or six for a bachelor’s.
But the traditional road is less and less traveled. Of the five million students who started college in the fall of 2009, 2.4 million of them didn’t fit the federal definition, according to the U.S. Education Department.
Nearly 40 percent of all students in college then were enrolled part time, the department’s data show. And many students from that entering class have probably since transferred. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, a third of students who started college in the fall of 2006 transferred at least once in the five years that followed. At the same time, colleges increasingly serve adult students who may have earned some credit in the past and now want to finish a degree.
Transfers, part-timers, and students who take a break and re-enroll either later or elsewhere—even if they graduate—don’t count.
- Invisible Transfer Students (hollymccracken.wordpress.com)