How do student characteristics predict university graduation odds?

How five student characteristics accurately predict for-profit university graduation odds

From SAGE Open

In his January 2009 State of the Union address, President Obama announced his goal for the U.S. to lead the world in college graduates by 2020. While policymakers often blame university systems for low graduation among college students, according to this research, characteristics known about a student before he or she even enters a college classroom can accurately predict graduation rates.  This study identifies characteristics such as fulltime enrollment status, race, transfer credits, and expected family contribution predict successful graduation from college.



President Obama’s goal is for America to lead the world in college graduates by 2020. Although for-profit institutions have increased their output of graduates at ten times the rate of nonprofits over the past decade, Congress and the U.S. Department of Education have argued that these institutions exploit the ambitions of lower-performing students. In response, this study examined how student characteristics predicted graduation odds at a large, regionally accredited for-profit institution campus. A logistic regression predicted graduation for the full population of 2,548 undergraduate students enrolled from 2005 to 2009 with scheduled graduation by June 30, 2011. Sixteen independent predictors were identified from school records and organized in the Bean and Metzner framework. The regression model was more robust than any in the literature, with a Nagelkerke R2 of .663. Only five factors had a significant impact on log odds: (a) grade point average (GPA), where higher values increased odds; (b) half time enrollment, which had lower odds than full time; (c) Blacks, who had higher odds than Whites; (d) credits required, where fewer credits increased odds; and (e) primary expected family contribution, where higher values increased odds. These findings imply that public policy will not increase college graduates by focusing on institution characteristics.

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Article details

Tim Gramling
How Five Student Characteristics Accurately Predict For-Profit University Graduation Odds
SAGE Open July-September 2013 3: 2158244013497026, first published on July 31, 2013 doi:10.1177/2158244013497026





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