267762 Epidemiology of community college completion: Applications of epidemiological methods to solve a mystery in higher education

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 12:35 PM - 12:50 PM

Janet E. Rosenbaum, PhD, AM , Department of Epidemiology, SPH, SUNY Downstate (Brooklyn), Brooklyn, NY
Community colleges have increased post-secondary educational access for disadvantaged youth, but few graduate. Half of community college drop-outs cite unspecified "personal reasons," twice as many as cite "family" or "finances." Federal education data cannot track risk behaviors that might inhibit college graduation. This study identified factors that predict educational attainment for future in-depth investigation. Using Tinto's theory of school retention, we identified 150 factors that might predict community college graduation. We tested whether each factor predicted educational attainment among National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health respondents enrolled in community college in 2001 (n=1774) using a Poisson working model with educational attainment outcomes in 2008, adjusting for pre-college variables measured in 1995 (e.g., test scores, risk behavior, and parents' socioeconomic status.) In 2008, 13% had earned certificate(s), 28% earned AAs, and 20% earned a BA or above. Gay/lesbian identity and methamphetamine use predicted 40% lower chances of AA/certificate (incidence rate ratios 0.57 (0.40, 0.82), 0.59 (0.40, 0.89)) and respectively 70% and 50% (IRRs 0.28 (0.09, 0.82), 0.51 (0.23, 1.13)) lower chances of BA, and stuttering predicted 60% lower chances of BA (IRR 0.41 (0.21, 0.81)). Other factors predicting lower educational attainment included obesity, activity limits, having been in alcohol treatment, distrusting government, and living with grandparents. Factors predicting higher educational attainment included living in a dorm, voting, political party affiliation, trusting government, bank account, email, computer access, and continuous health insurance. Religiosity, police involvement, and most substance use did not predict educational attainment. Future in-depth investigations will identify mediating factors for designing interventions.

Learning Areas:
Biostatistics, economics
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
The learner will be able to describe why education researchers have limited knowledge about why community college students do not graduate and list several factors derived from public health data that may explain community college graduation versus drop-out.

Keywords: Youth, Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal investigator on three foundation grants to study community college students, and I have published in the area of epidemiology and adolescent and young adult public health in high impact journals including American Journal of Epidemiology, Journal of Adolescent Health, and Pediatrics.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 3229.0: Epidemiologic Methods