Stop-Outs Behavior at Broad Access Four-Year Universities: Lessons from the California State University
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
(1) What types of stop-out behaviors do first time freshman at broad access four-year universities engage in (is stopping-out common, when does it happen, how long do stop-outs typically last, etc.)?
a. Do stop-outs behaviors differ, on average, among students of color than in the general population of first-time freshman at broad access four-year universities?
(2) Is the length of a stop-out associated with the likelihood that student will return?
Data for this study come from administrative data files that comprise a census of undergraduates enrolled at CSU from the 2002 until the 2012 school year. A longitudinal cohort approach is used for analysis. Cohorts are comprised of eight consecutive semesters after participant’s first semester enrolled in classes (Fall 2008); robustness checks are performed to address censorship concerns (Singer and Willett, 2003). In answering research question 1, this paper provides a descriptive portrait of the length, frequency, and timing of initial departure. Frequency distribution graphs and box and whisker plots are used to illustrate distribution and central tendency. Survival analysis—a life table and hazard function—are used in research question 2.
Preliminary findings are that stop-outs are ubiquitous among undergraduates at public four-year universities, however not as common as demonstrated in previous research using national samples. Another key finding is that stop-outs are much more common after the first year. This is interesting given that study abroad is most common in undergraduates’ junior year; the stop-outs observed here may reflect behaviors that do not threaten persistence. More research is needed to understand why some students stop-out, return, and eventually graduate, while others do no return after a stop-out.