(from the Harvard Graduate School of Education):

By Zachary Mabel and Tolani A. Britton

Over the last two decades, improvements in data quality have shown that college dropout is widespread and raised concern over low completion rates at U.S. colleges and universities. Approximately two-thirds of degree-seeking students at community colleges withdraw before earning an associate or bachelor’s degree within six years of initial enrollment, while nearly 40 percent of undergraduates at four-year institutions exit before earning a degree in this timeframe. Data sources also suggest that more than 40 percent of college students who do not earn degrees leave after their second year of school (Bowen, Chingos, & McPherson, 2009; Shapiro et al., 2014).

In an era in which the returns to college completion are large for most students but public funding for higher education is limited, targeting students who are near graduation but remain at risk of dropout may offer a cost-effective strategy for increasing degree attainment. However, because much of the research and policy attention on the dropout issue has focused on early departure (Adelman, 2006; Chemers, Hu & Garcia, 2001; Kuh, Cruce, Shoup, Kinzie & Gonyea, 2008; Stinebrickner & Stinebrickner, 2012; Zajacova, Lynch, & Espenshade, 2005), less is known about how close to degree attainment non-completers are at the time of dropout and which students are at risk of leaving late.

In this paper, we offer new evidence on the scope and predictors of college late departure. CONTINUE READING HERE