College Milestones

Persistence over terms and years

Persistence generally refers to the duration of enrollment maintained by students as they pursue a degree or transfer, whether from term-to-term or year-to-year. Some indicators of persistence, such as the one-year persistence rate reported by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, only count students who remain enrolled at the community college where they first enrolled, while sources such as the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study also measure persistence for students who transfer institutions. Persistence to the second year appears to be the most pivotal indicator of success, since community college students are more likely to drop out in their first year than during any of the next five years. Since most associate degree and transfer programs require the equivalent of two years of full-time enrollment, and longer for part-time enrollment, persistence to the second year and beyond is essential for many students to achieve their goals.