Credits Earned Within One Year: North Carolina

Percentage of first-time degree-seeking North Carolina Community College students enrolled in fall terms 2002 through 2007 who reached the one-year credit milestone

What Is Measured?

Percentage of students reaching first-year credit milestone: 24 credits for full-time students and 18 credits for part-time students

Who Is Counted?

First-time degree-seeking students who entered North Carolina Community Colleges in fall terms from 2002 through 2007

What It Tells Us

Among degree-seeking North Carolina Community College students enrolled in fall 2007, 31 percent reached a designated credit milestone within one year, which was 24 or more credits for students initially enrolled full time and 18 or more credits for students initially enrolled part time. Among those initially enrolled full time, younger students were more likely to reach this milestone than older students (64 percent vs. 57 percent). Students initially enrolled part time had lower rates of course credit completion (18 percent for both younger and older students).

Why It's Important

Researchers generally agree that students need to earn a certain number of credits during their first year to gain momentum toward completion and transfer. Although the probability of completing a certificate or degree increases almost linearly with the number of first-year credits completed, the indicators in this measure specify a particular threshold number of credits in the first year. Community college students who earn at least 20 credits in their first year are more likely to complete a certificate or associate degree and to earn a bachelor's degree than those who do not. Policies that encourage full-time and summer enrollment in the first year can facilitate early credit accumulation.

About the Data

Degree-seeking students: include students seeking associate degrees, certificates, or diplomas.

Data were obtained from Curriculum registration, Progress, and Financial Aid Report files for the respective fall cohorts. Enrollment status was determined at the time of fall registration.

Data for students starting in fall 2006 and fall 2007 were incomplete and these values do not necessarily reflect a true change from prior years' values.

Data Source

North Carolina Community College System, Office of the President. (2010, January 13). Data trends and briefings, table 4-1.