Educational Outcomes of Occupational Postsecondary Students

Bailey, Thomas R.; Alfonso, Mariana; Scott, Marc; Leinbach, D. Timothy

This report examines whether postsecondary occupational students, particularly at the sub-baccalaureate level, are more likely than other types of postsecondary students to achieve their educational goals. We first analyze what proportion of occupational students who set out to earn a particular certificate or degree actually complete that credential. We then compare these findings with similar findings about postsecondary students enrolled in academic programs. Section II reviews the research literature related to postsecondary persistence and completion. Section III discusses how we identified the three groups of students and briefly describes similarities and differences among the samples we used. Section IV provides a descriptive analysis of the student groups and describes retention and college completion for each group, and the variables used in our analyses. Section V specifies our empirical approach, discusses our findings and extends the analysis to focus on the effect of occupational education on special populations, such as academically and economically disadvantaged associate students. Section VI provides an analysis of one- and three-year persistence rates, with an emphasis on occupational students seeking associate degrees. It also discusses the findings and integrates them with those from the completion analyses of section V. Finally, we summarize our findings and discuss policy implications in section VII.


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Community College Research Center
Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University
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April 4, 2014