tc columbia

Trends in Enrollment Patterns Among Community College Students

By: Peter M. Crosta


Trends in Enrollment Patterns Among Community College Students

Using a large dataset, the latest in CCRC's Analytics series (based on a longer paper) reveals the diversity of enrollment patterns among community college students as they progress along their education pathways. It also demonstrates a novel graphical technique for displaying large numbers of student enrollment patterns in terms of continuity (whether or not a student enrolls in a given semester) and intensity (whether a student enrolls part-time or full-time).

Analysis reveals many distinct patterns of enrollment, very few of which comport with an idealized notion of traditional enrollment. Because so many students are found to switch their enrollment intensity multiple times, the results call into question the conventional characterization of enrollees as either part-time or full-time students. More broadly, the widespread variation in enrollment patterns underscores the challenge for colleges in facilitating students’ entry into and completion of programs of study.