If community and state leaders have the right information in hand, they can take actions that help to increase the number Vermonters with a postsecondary credential. For many years, the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) has conducted a survey of high school seniors about their plans after high school. In a recent report series, VSAC followed the Vermont High School Class of 2012 in the years following graduation. Below you will find the executive summary and a link to the third report which examines the numbers and factors associated with postsecondary enrollment and completion of the the Class of 2012 four years after high school.
VSAC Executive Summary
In 2014, VSAC issued a report on the aspirations of the Vermont High School Class of 2012. The following year, VSAC issued a report on the postsecondary enrollment of the Class of 2012. This third report, released in late 2018, looks at the Class of 2012 four years after high school graduation and describes the percentage of graduates who enrolled in postsecondary education, along with the percentage who attained a degree within four years. This report also discusses some of the factors associated with the timely completion of a degree. The study provides some encouraging data about the four-year graduation rates of matriculated members of the class as a whole. However, the data also reveals wide variation in the success rates between students from different socioeconomic groups and between students attending different institutions of higher education.
This report examines the on-time completion rates of Vermont high school graduates who began their postsecondary education full-time at a four-year school. Vermont high school students enroll immediately in four-year institutions at a higher rate than the national or regional average. Sixty percent of Vermont high school graduates who enrolled immediately at a four-year institution graduated within four years, 13 percentage points higher than the national average. However, this success was not shared by every group in the high school Class of 2012—there was wide variation in on-time degree attainment between men and women, and between first-generation and second-generation status, by academic preparation, by geography, and by the institution the students attended.
Among those students who started full-time at a four-year school within six months of high school graduation, VSAC found:
- 56.4 percent of the students obtained a bachelor’s degree within four years, and an additional 3.4 percent obtained an associate degree.
- The completion rate of students who started at private institutions was 67 percent. The completion rate of students who started at public institutions was 53 percent.
- Eight out of 10 students who remained at their schools for four consecutive years while being enrolled full-time attained a postsecondary degree within four years. Only 53 percent of students who started full-time at a four-year school remained enrolled full-time for four consecutive years at the school at which they started.
- Students who transferred schools (even though they were enrolled continuously) were almost 30 percentage points less likely to graduate within four years than those who remained at their starting schools.
- Students who enrolled less than full-time (even though they were enrolled continuously) were 30 percentage points less likely to graduate within four years than those students who were enrolled continuously on a full-time basis.
- Students who left school for at least a semester were 70 percentage points less likely to graduate within four years than students who were enrolled continuously.
- Seventy percent of second-generation females completed their degrees within four years. • Only 46 percent of first-generation males completed their degrees within four years.
- While Vermont had a higher completion rate than the national average, it also had a higher percentage of students who dropped out or stopped out of postsecondary education without a degree. At the end of four years, 22 percent of the students who began their postsecondary education had left school without attaining a degree. This was five percentage points higher than the national average.