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Students Enrolled Part-Time Are More Likely to Stop Out

May 5, 2020

Students who attend college part-time are much more likely to drop out without earning a credential, according to a new report.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center analyzed six-year completion rates for students who attended college part-time and full-time, beginning in the fall of 2013. It included those who enrolled at four-year and two-year institutions.

Researchers found that part-time students stopped out of college at about twice the rate of full-time students.

“With colleges and students under enormous stress because of COVID-19, it’s important for institutions and learners to keep in mind the unique challenges and needs of part-time students, even in normal times, to persist and graduate,” Doug Shapiro, executive director of the center, said in a news release.

One in four part-time students left in their first year, according to the report. A little more than 20 percent of those students had earned a credential by the end of the fourth year.

The six-year graduation rate for part-time students was about 34 percent, roughly one percentage point higher than those in the 2012 cohort. Between the 2009 and 2013 cohorts, the six-year stop-out rate increased for part-time students by more than five percentage points, but it decreased for full-time students.

Meanwhile, 45 percent of full-time students completed a credential by the end of the fourth year. About 65 percent graduated by the end of the sixth year.

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Madeline St. Amour

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