The typical college education cycle is shifting away from the traditional straight-out-of-high-school path to a degree in four years.
Actually, more than half of college students now attend part time and did not start right out of high school. Additionally, they are more likely to have transferred at least once between institutions.
The new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center paints a new picture of the college time-frame since the financial crisis of 2007-2008, undoubtedly affected significantly by the mounting cost of college tuition and the burden of student loan debt.
About 77 percent of full-time students entering college in 2008 earned a degree in six years, compared with just 43 percent of students who attended a mix of part time and 21 percent of entirely part-time students, the study found.
Older or part-time college students today are less likely to earn a bachelor’s degree in six years, or an associate’s degree in three, than their younger, full-time counterparts.
The NSC report says that students who enrolled exclusively full time completed at greater rates (77.2 percent) than their exclusively part-time (21 percent) and mixed enrollment (43 percent) counterparts.
70% Graduated, or are Still Enrolled
Overall, 69.7 percent of students completed a degree (55.1 percent) or were still enrolled (14.7) at the end of the six-year study period beginning in the fall of 2008.
“It can be argued that six years may not be an adequate time-frame for part-time students to complete post-secondary education, especially for those who started in four-year institutions,” the report states.
During this period, the challenges facing institutions of higher learning included “shifts in enrollment patterns (enrollment increases in community colleges and for-profit institutions and flat or declining enrollments in public and private nonprofit institutions), uncertainties regarding affordability and financial aid, and cuts in state support of public institutions.”