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The Influence of Co-Enrollment on the Success of Traditional Age Community College Students


by Gloria Crisp — 2013

Background/Context: Student utilization of complex enrollment patterns has been identified as a significant recent development in higher education. Nearly a dozen different multi-institutional attendance patterns have been identified, including co-enrollment. Co-enrollment is simultaneous enrollment at two or more colleges or universities during the course of a given term or semester. Although research exists to understand the factors promoting persistence and degree completion for community college students, work does not properly account for co-enrollment or other forms of multi-institutional attendance.

Purpose: The purpose of the study is to measure the impact of co-enrollment on success outcomes among a national sample of traditional age community college students. The following research questions are addressed: (a) In what ways are the characteristics of traditional aged community college students who co-enroll similar or different from students who do not co-enroll? (b) Does co-enrollment significantly increase or decrease the odds that a student will earn a degree and/or persist through the sixth year of college?

Subjects: The sample was drawn from participants in the second follow-up of the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS: 04/09). The pre-matched sample was limited to the 4,920 students who began their postsecondary education at a two-year institution and were traditional in terms of age. The matched sample included a sub-sample of 700 co-enrollees and 700 matched students.

Research Design: The study utilized a non-experimental quantitative design.

Data Collection and Analysis: Propensity score matching techniques were used on observational data as a means of reducing observed selection bias. After the sample was shown to be balanced on observed covariates, logistic regression analyses were used to measures the influence of co-enrollment on the success of community college students.

Results: Results demonstrate that, even after controlling for observable selection bias and variables previously shown to influence success outcomes for community college students, co-enrolling at more than one institution during a given semester significantly increases the odds that community college students will succeed.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Co-enrollment may promote access to four-year institutions for community college students desiring to transfer and earn a four-year degree. State and federal policy makers and institutional leaders need to be aware that non-linear attendance is a legitimate way for students to experience and be successful in college. Descriptive work is needed to understand how and at what point students are attending multiple institutions.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 115 Number 10, 2013, p. 1-25
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17156, Date Accessed: 10/22/2017 3:12:58 PM

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About the Author
  • Gloria Crisp
    University of Texas at San Antonio
    E-mail Author
    GLORIA CRISP is an associate professor of higher education at The University of Texas at San Antonio. The focus of her scholarship includes understanding the factors influencing the success of community college and/or populations traditionally underrepresented in college and the impact of institutional and state policy on student transfer and persistence. Recent publications include “The role of discriminatory experiences on Hispanic students’ college choice decisions” in the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences (with Amanda Taggart) and an article in The Review of Higher Education entitled “The impact of mentoring on community college students’ intent to persist.”
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