I believe Clifford Adelman completed one of the most important studies concerning staying in college
. The study is found in The Tool Box Revisited: Plans to Degree Completion from High School to College (Washington, D.C: U.S. Department of Education
Adelman found a 66% college completion
rate. This is a higher college persistence
rate than most prior studies. (One prominent prior study is by Susan Choy, entitled Access and Persistence
.) In fact, it easily trumps the common idea that college completion rates are, at best, 50%.
He investigates a number of student risk factors
for non-completion. Adelman examined elements of college support
, student time management
, and predictors of success. He found that academic preparation
in mathematics beyond Algebra II is a very strong predictor of success.
I found the most novel part of the study by Adelman was what students can do after they are in college to enhance college success
. More on this in the next blog.
While his conclusions regarding predictors of success are noteworthy, his methodology is more critical, in my view. The study by Adelman did not rely on institutional data. In other words, it did not rely on the graduation data provided by the school as school-level data has always failed to properly measure students who transfer, only to successfully graduate elsewhere.
Adelman did it the only way that it can be done properly. He collected performance data at the individual data, by reviewing the college transcripts of individuals through the National Education Longitudinal Study 88/2000 database. His study sampled all college students, EXCEPT for those who attended community college (graduating or not), and NEVER entered a 4-year college. Adelman followed students for eight and one-half years after high school.
Adelman emphasized that much data and reporting on college success
mixes up nineteen-year-olds with much older college students (his focus is on the former). He found that 60% of students go to more than one postsecondary institution, and many swirl between several colleges. In sum, many statistics on college dropout rates overstate non-completion because they rely on return rates at a single postsecondary institution.
Labels: College Completion