| New Report
Reveals Latest Trends in College Course-Taking, and Achievement
Attendance, Curriculum, and Performance,” a report released
in September 2003 from the National Center for Education Statistics,
provides the latest national data on attendance patterns,
degree attainment, curriculum, and performance. Data in the
report is disaggregated by race/ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic
status. The study also reports on attendance patterns, high
school course taking, college major choices, and academic
performance. The study followed 9,500 individuals who were
in eighth grade in 1998, and tracks their educational experience
until they were 26 or 27.
The study confirmed many common
assumptions: students who start out in “highly selective”
colleges and universities are more likely to earn bachelor's
degrees, students who experience the most academic intensity
in their high school curricula are less likely to take remedial
courses in college, and students who earn at least a bachelor's
degree take fewer remedial courses than those who do not complete
a bachelor's degree.
Forty-five percent of all likely
postsecondary participants earned a bachelor's degree
or higher by age 26 or 27.
Of those who earned more than ten
college credits, 51 percent earned a bachelor's degree
Females did, however, further close
the gap with male students for math scores. The average score
on the math section of the SAT has increased 19 points for
females and 13 points for males in the past decade. Overall
math scores are up 16 points compared to 1993.
Of those students who earned bachelor's
degrees, the highest percentage majored in a social sciences
field (19.4 percent); 17.0 percent majored in business; 11.2
percent majored in applied social sciences (including communications,
clinical/counseling psychology, public administration, social
work, criminal justice).
More than half of Hispanic/Latino
students (versus 37 percent of white students and 41 percent
of Black students) began their postsecondary careers in community
Of all undergraduates who earned
more than ten credits, 20 percent attended institutions in
more than one state as undergraduates.
Twenty-four percent of bachelor's
degree recipients attended institutions in more than one state
as an undergraduate.
Among all postsecondary students,
32.3 percent attended two institutions and another 18.9 percent
attended more than two. Among those who attended two institutions,
71.8 percent attended the two institutions in the same state
and 28.2 percent attended institutions in two states.
Slightly more than 48 percent of
all postsecondary students attended only one institution as
an undergraduate; 32.2 percent attended two; and 18.9 percent
attended more than two.
Of students who earned a bachelor's
degree, 40.7 percent attended one institution; 36.6 percent
attended two; and 22.6 percent attended more than two.
Twenty-four percent of students
started college in a doctoral institution; 31.3 started in
another type of four-year institution; 39.6 started in a community
American Indian/Alaskan Native
(57.5 percent) was the largest ethnic group to start their
postsecondary education in community colleges, followed closely
by Hispanic/Latino (54.8 percent).
The Asian/Pacific Islander group
had the fewest students starting in community colleges (37.1
percent) followed closely by White (37.4 percent). Forty percent
of African-American students started in community colleges.
- This report correlates higher
bachelor degree attainment with more rigorous high school
curricula. Students whose highest level of mathematics in
high school was at the trigonometry, precalculus, or calculus
level had bachelor's degree completion rates above
60 percent; for students who completed a calculus course
in high school, the bachelor's degree completion rate
was 83 percent.
- The highest numbers of foreign
language credits were earned by humanities majors (16.3
credits), followed by social science majors (7.8 credits)
and physical sciences majors (6.3). Engineering majors earned
on average only 1.6 credits in foreign languages.
- The highest number of foreign
language credits and international studies credits earned
by different groups of students followed the same pattern:
most were earned by humanities majors (20 credits), social
sciences majors (12.5) and physical sciences majors (7.4).
Engineering majors earned on average only 2.4 credits in
- A majority of students
who started out in community colleges took one or more remedial
courses, compared with 19 percent of students who started
in doctoral degree-granting institutions and 30 percent
of those who started in other types of 4-year institutions.
Among B.A. degree recipients,
women's GPAs were higher on average than those of
- The higher the degree a student
achieved (baccalaureate or higher) the fewer remedial courses
he or she took: 2.4 percent of those who earned a baccalaureate
or higher degree enrolled in four or more remedial courses—77.5
percent of those enrolled in none.
- Of those students enrolled
in four or more remedial courses, 19.2 percent earned only
11-29 credits and earned no degree.
taken from a study from the National Center for Education Statistics,
Postsecondary Attainment, Attendance, Curriculum, and Performance,
published September 2003. Available at http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2003394.
For this study, postsecondary
attainment is broken down by race/ethnicity, sex, and socioeconomic
status for different categories of student attendance (based
on number of credits and institutional type). Postsecondary
attendance is examined through the number of institutions
students attended and in the number of states they attended
them, types of institutions attended, such as community colleges,
and credits taken during the summer term. College course-taking
patterns are broken down by high school course taking and
by college major. Finally, postsecondary performance is examined
through undergraduate GPA, remedial courses, and number of
- Men are more likely to begin in community
colleges than women.
- Of postsecondary participants studied,
only 11 percent earned 10 credits or fewer by age 26 or
- Fifty-four percent of SAT-takers are
female and 46 percent are male.
- A majority of undergraduates attended
high school during summer terms.
- Strongest verbal gains among all ethnic
groups were among Asians, with a 19-point increase, followed
by Puerto Rican students (13 points) and White students
- Of students who earned more than
10 credits, 43.3 percent attended one institution, 35.2
percent attended two and 21.5 percent attended more than
- Of all students studied, 82 percent
attended school in one state; 15.8 percent in two states;
and 2.2 in more than two states.