An Introduction to Community College Data

An Introduction to Community College Data

Alexandros M. Goudas    January 2019

This article is designed to put basic U.S. 4-year, community college, and 2-year college data into a broader context to help practitioners understand this information in relation to other education data. Some of the numbers and percents are rounded for simplification. More will be added as this article is updated. 

 

U.S. population: 326 million

Overall Numbers of Students 

All K-12 students: 56.6 million (51 million in public schools, and 6 million in private schools)

All postsecondary students: 19.9 million

4-year postsecondary students: 13.3 million (67% or 2/3 of the total 19.9 million)

2-year postsecondary students: 6.7 million (33% or 1/3 of the total 19.9 million)

(“Fast Facts,” 2018)

 

Overall Numbers of Institutions

All K-12 schools: 98,300 public schools (including 6,900 charters, and 34,600 private schools)

All postsecondary degree-granting institutions (Title IV): 4,600

All 4-year institutions: 3,000

4-year public: 700 

4-year private: 2,300 

All 2-year institutions: 1,579

2-year public: 910

2-year private: 669 

(“Table 105.50,” 2017)

 

Completion Rates

High school graduation rate: 85.3% (“High School Graduates,” 2017)

Postsecondary enrollment rate directly after high school graduation: 69.8% (“Fast Facts,” 2018)

4-year public graduation rate after six years: 58.31% (Shapiro et al., 2018)

2-year public graduation rate after six years: 39.22% (Shapiro et al., 2018)

2-year public graduation after eight years: 44% (Shapiro et al., 2017, p. 45)

Analysis: Aside from some recent fluctuations in 4-year college completion, these rates are the highest graduation rates from high school and college since data have been collected, especially for high school. Also, only recently have researchers begun to track 2-year public college students for eight years. Since many 2-year college students are part time, this 5-point rise in graduation rates should not be surprising. However, it is often not reported that so many more students graduate after 2 more years of tracking. 

Retention Rates

4-year public retention rate overall (first-year students returning to the same institutions one year later): 68.8%

4-year public persistence rate overall (first-year students returning to any institution one year later): 79.3%

4-year public retention rate full-time (first-year students returning to same institution one year later): 79%

4-year public persistence rate full-time (first-year students returning to any institution one year later): 86.4%

4-year public retention rate part-time (first-year students returning to the same institution one year later): 39%

4-year public persistence rate part-time (first-year students returning to any institution one year later): 56%

2-year public retention rate overall (first-year students returning to the same institutions one year later): 46.9%

2-year public persistence rate overall (first-year students returning to any institution one year later): 57.6%

2-year public retention rate full-time (first-year students returning to same institution one year later): 59%

2-year public persistence rate full-time (first-year students returning to any institution one year later): 66.7%

2-year public retention rate part-time (first-year students returning to the same institution one year later): 39%

2-year public persistence rate part-time (first-year students returning to any institution one year later): 52%

Analysis: Note that part-time 4-year and 2-year retention (students coming back the second year to the same institution) are almost identical. This suggests that the populations are similar in terms of common barriers such as a lack of support, monetary or otherwise. 

(“Snapshot Report No. 18,” 2015)

 

References 

Fast facts: Back to school statistics. (2018). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education.  Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372

High school graduates, by sex and control of school: Selected years, 1869-70 through 2027-28 (Table 219.10). (2017). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education Digest of Education Statistics. Retrieved from  https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d17/tables/dt17_219.10.asp

Number of educational institutions, by level and control of institution: Selected years, 1980-81 through 2015-16 (Table 105.50). (2017). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education Digest of Education Statistics. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d17/tables/dt17_105.50.asp

Public high school graduation rates. (2018). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_coi.asp

Shapiro, D., Dundar, A., Huie, F., Wakhungu, P. K., Bhimdiwali, A., & Wilson, S. E. (2018). Completing college: A national view of student completion rates – fall 2012 cohort (Signature Report No. 16). Herndon, VA: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Retrieved from https://nscresearchcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/NSC004_Signature-Report_V8_12DEC18.pdf

Shapiro, D., Dundar, A., Huie, F., Wakhungu, P. K., Yuan, X., Nathan, A., & Bhimdiwali, A. (2017). Completing college: A national view of student completion rates – Fall 2011 cohort (Signature Report No. 14). Herndon, VA: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Retrieved from https://nscresearchcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/SignatureReport14_Final.pdf

Snapshot report no. 18: Persistence-retention. (2015). Herndon, VA: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Retrieved from https://nscresearchcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/SnapshotReport18-PersistenceRetention.pdf