Part-Time Students Must Be a Full-Time Priority
Acting on data about both part-time and full-time students is essential to moving the needle on college completion. It also is an equity issue. Part-time student attainment rates severely lag behind those of their full-time counterparts, regardless of sector or timeframe. And part-time students are disproportionately BILPOC (Black, Indigenous, Latinx, People of Color) students, community college students, and students ages 25 and older.
Until recently, higher education measured outcomes primarily for full-time, first-time students, otherwise known as “traditional students.” But that has now changed. The new Outcomes Measures (OM) Survey from the National Center for Education Statistics, tracks outcomes for both part-time and full-time time students. This brief provides an overview of data from the OM Survey and shows the importance of helping more part-time students earn credentials. It also provides an overview of steps colleges can take to implement CCA strategies in ways that better support part-time students.
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Part-Time Students Must Be a Full-Time Priority helps colleges understand and act on completion data for both part-time and full-time students. Key findings include:
- Part-time student attainment rates severely lag behind those of their full-time counterparts, regardless of sector or timeframe.
- About half of college students enroll part time.
- Part-time students are disproportionately BILPOC (Black, Indigenous, Latinx, People of Color) students, community college students, and students ages 25 and older.
- Colleges are not currently designed to effectively serve part-time students. Improving outcomes for BILPOC students and working learners requires restructuring higher education systems to meet the needs of part-time students.
- Cost of attendance matters. Part-time students with Pell Grants have slightly higher completion rates. Reducing or otherwise helping meet the costs of food, housing, transportation, technology, health care, child care, and other basic needs supports part-time students as well.
- It is vital for the postsecondary field—from practitioners to best-practice scholars—to invest in research and create policy pressure for systems change regarding part-time student success.
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