Data from the National Student Clearinghouse provide insight into how and where students graduate from four-year institutions by attendance status. As illustrated below, full-time students have a definitive advantage in completion rates compared to part-time students.
Three-quarters (74 percent) of full-time students who began their college program at a four-year public institution completed their degree at that institution. An additional 7 percent completed at another four-year institution, totaling 81 percent earning a four-year degree. Another 2 percent received a degree at a two-year program and 2 percent were still enrolled.
For students who were exclusively part-time during their college experience, only 18 percent earned their degree at the initial institution: less than one-in-five students. One percent received a degree at a different four-year institution, one percent at a two-year institution, and 9 percent were still enrolled. Seventy percent of part-time students did not receive a degree and were not enrolled six-years later.
Students who were a mix of full- and part-time status during their college experience were, as expected, somewhere in between. For these students, one third (35 percent) earned their degree at the initial institution, 9 percent at another four-year institution, and 5 percent earned a two-year credential. One quarter (24 percent) were still enrolled and 27 percent were not enrolled with no degree.
SOURCE: Shapiro, D., Ryu, M., Huie, F., Liu, Q., and Zheng, Y. (December 2019), Completing College 2019 National Report (Signature Report 18), Herndon, VA: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.