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Increasing Student Mobility Reshaping Pathway to a College Degree

Forty-six percent of graduates attend community colleges prior to a four-year degree; 14.6 percent move between states

HERNDON, VA, MAR. 25, 2015 — Student mobility continues to play an important part in determining the paths students take to college completion, both in relation to students who enroll at community colleges en route to four-year degrees and those who move between states.

Today community colleges play an increasingly critical role in enabling completion. The National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center’s new “Two-Year Contributions to Four-Year Degrees” Snapshot Report found that nearly half (46 percent) of all students who completed a degree at a four-year institution in 2013-14 had been enrolled at a two-year institution at some point in the previous 10 years. This represents an increase of one percentage point over the comparable figure for degrees awarded in 2011, when the Research Center first reported on this topic. Furthermore, 21 percent of four-year completers had been enrolled in two-year institutions for five or more terms.

Today’s Interstate Mobility report shows that, nationally, more and more students are crossing state lines on their pathways to graduation: 14.6 percent of 2014 college graduates attended college in at least one other state or territory in the 10 years prior to receiving a credential. This means that nearly 374,000 graduates had enrollments in more than one state. Compared to 2011, the number of undergraduates who crossed state lines on their way to a degree increased by 11.5 percent, or 39,000 grads.

The mobility index increased in 33 states since 2010-11. A state-level data table can be downloaded here.

“Policymakers focused on institution-based accountability measures should consider the increasing interdependencies among institutions in supporting the success of today’s mobile students,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director of the Research Center.

About the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center is the research arm of the National Student Clearinghouse. The Research Center collaborates with higher education institutions, states, school districts, high schools, and educational organizations as part of a national effort to better inform education leaders and policymakers. Through accurate longitudinal data outcomes reporting, the Research Center enables better educational policy decisions leading to improved student outcomes.

To learn more, visit http://research.studentclearinghouse.org.

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