A new report from Complete College America, an organization dedicated to raising college degree attainment rates, found that completion rates among part-time students lag behind those of full-time students.
The report, released today, analyzed data from the National Center for Education Statistics tracking outcomes for part-time and full-time students. It found that fewer than 20 percent of first-time students who enrolled part-time graduated within eight years at the institution where they started, compared to 46 percent of full-time students. Only a quarter of transfer students who started part-time graduated in that time period, compared to 51 percent of full-time transfer students.
Part-time students are also disproportionately older adult learners and students of color, according to the report. Sixty-four percent of students age 25 and older attend college part-time. Almost half of white students enroll part-time, compared to 64 percent of Black students and 68 percent of Hispanic students.
The report includes recommendations to campus leaders to better support part-time students, including ensuring course schedules have classes outside work hours and providing short course options so part-time students can earn credentials more quickly.
“The research has long been clear that time is the enemy of completion for students—regardless of full- or part-time enrollment status,” Yolanda Watson Spiva, president of Complete College America, said in a press release. “However, because of the broken economics of paying for college, part-time study is a necessity for learners balancing the complex demands of family, education, and career. At a time when students from historically-excluded backgrounds are disproportionately enrolled part-time, this research makes it clear that meeting the needs of part-time students is an equity imperative.”