Trends in Enrollment Patterns Among Community College Students
Community college programs are designed around regularity. Degrees and certificates are often branded with an expected or “regular” completion time (e.g., two-year associate degree, one-year certificate), and suggested course sequences often assume this underlying time structure. In reality, however, relatively few students finish their course sequences and programs of study so quickly. Instead, students generate a diverse array of attendance patterns that may include periods of non-enrollment and shifts in part-time/fulltime status. Indeed, the notion of a regular enrollment pattern is quickly challenged through analysis of data on how students actually attend community college. Using a large dataset, this report (based on a longer paper—see Crosta, 2013) 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).
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