In comparison to 2009, college students are reportedly staying in school at higher rates. This varies widely depending on their race, ethnicities and part time or full time enrollment status.

The Finding

According to new college enrollment data review, college students are reportedly staying in school at higher rates in comparison to six years ago. This is based on a study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which analyzed 3.7 million US students.

The study divided the results into “persistence rates,” the percentage who returned to any institution the following fall, and “retention rates,” the percentage returning to the same institution.

The data shows that 73.4 percent of students who enrolled in US colleges for the 2015 academic year came back to school the following year. Among those was a 61.1 retention rate. This is approximately 2 percent higher than the data from six years ago.

Variations in the Return Rates

This all varied depending on students’ race, ethnicities and part-time or full-time enrollment status. Data showed that Asian students returned at the highest rate, with an 84% persistence rate and 72.9% retention rate. White students returned to any college 79.2 percent of the time. Hispanic students did so at a 72.5 percent rate, and black students at 66.9 percent.

Part time students also returned to any school 58.6 percent of the time, whereas full time students returned 82.8 percent of the time. Because of this many schools have been urging their students towards full-time enrollment. The City University of New York has recently launched a program to help incentivize students to enrolling full-time. The program is being adopted by several other institutions in the country,


The rates at which students return to school can be due to a number of reasons. A main factor is usually financial challenges. Some students are unable to continue paying for college after the first year, especially since many colleges offer generous packages and financial aid for some students’ first year.

Other factors also include not being socially or academically prepared for college. Many students switch schools when they believe they’ve been given poor advice regarding which school to go to or which classes they should take. Other reasons for switching could also be a decision to switch fields, which could be offered at better quality at another institution.

All these are possible factors, but it still remains unclear as to the exact reasons why persistence rates have generally increased over the years.


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