Delayed Enrollment and What it Means for GRCC

Integral to improving student success rates is a careful study of the causes behind the data on student success. That’s at the heart of a recent article on “delayed enrollment” published in the most recent issue of Data Notes, a publication of Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count.

“Delayed Enrollment” refers to the reality that nearly half of community college students do not enroll immediately following high school, and the amount of time that elapses before they apply for college seems to affect not only students’ career path but how and when they succeed. [Note: At GRCC, 78% in the AtD cohorts enroll right after high school, so we can’t say “our students”]

This isn’t a new subject for research – but the latest statistics collected by ATD buck historic trends (GRCC is one of the 150 colleges that are contributing data to the study). In the past, the longer a student delayed enrolling in college after high school put them at a higher risk for not earning a degree than traditional students. What ATD has found is that this disparity only seems to exist for the first two years of college; by the third there is no significant difference in success rates.

Who are these students? Research shows that they’re more likely to be female, part-time students and that they’re less likely to transfer to four-year schools. The longer a student waits to enroll, the more likely they are to need developmental education.

Another interesting contrast is that where immediate enrollees were more likely to be successful if they did not receive Pell Grants, delayed enrollees were more successful if they were Pell Grant awardees.

GRCC data show that 85% of students who enroll immediately after high school are still enrolled at GRCC the following term. Term-to-term retention rates are lower for students who delay enrollment by 1 to 2 years (79% retention); 3 to 4 years (71% retention); and 5 years or more (71% retention). Mirroring national data, GRCC students who delay enrollment are more likely to be female and part-time; however, at GRCC, those who delay enrollment are no more likely to be placed in developmental courses than those who do not delay enrollment.

Though it’s early, ATD researchers have been able to draw some conclusions from the data:

  • Delaying enrollment reduces student success, however it does not guarantee completion or a successful transfer.
  • Students who delay enrollment have considerably different motivations for attending school , as well as different needs than immediate enrollees.
  • Understanding the goals and needs of delayed enrollees will be helpful in structuring a successful college experience for them, and this extra attention to detail will pay dividends as they represent half of incoming students.

Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count is a national non-profit organization committed to helping more community college students succeed, with a special focus on students of color and students with low-income. GRCC is one of the 150 colleges currently participating in the organization.

Source: Achieving the Dream, Data Notes, p. 1

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