An Analysis of Two-Year and Four-Year Pathways to a Baccalaureate: Academic Progress and Labor Market Performance

PI: Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment

PI: Thomas Bailey, Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE)
: Di Xu

Funder: Institute of Education Sciences (IES

Duration: 2015-2016

Project Description

Community colleges have increasingly become a stepping stone to bachelor’s degree attainment. Yet, policy makers and researchers have been concerned about the viability of the community college transfer function. This project examines how and why the community college pathway to a baccalaureate influences students’ degree attainment and short-term labor market performance, using detailed administrative data from Virginia with propensity score matching to compare aspiring baccalaureate students entering the two-year versus four-year sector. Taking advantage of the detailed transcript information, this project will also examine various mechanisms that may stand in the way of these students’ baccalaureate completion, including: the impacts of two-year attendance on early academic progress, the logistical challenges inherent in selecting and enrolling in a four-year transfer destination, the loss of credits at the point of transfer, and post-transfer academic “shock.” A cost-benefit analysis will also be conducted to weigh the costs and benefits of beginning college at a two-year institution versus a four-year college.