NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Heterogeneous Paths Through College: Detailed Patterns and Relationships with Graduation and Earnings

Rodney Andrews, Jing Li, Michael Lovenheim

NBER Working Paper No. 19935
Issued in February 2014
NBER Program(s):   ED   LS

A considerable fraction of college students and bachelor's degree recipients enroll in multiple postsecondary institutions. Despite this fact, there is scant research that examines the nature of the paths – both the number and types of institutions – that students take to obtain a bachelor's degree or through the higher education system more generally. We also know little about enrollment in multiple institutions of varying quality relates to postgraduate life outcomes. We use a unique panel data set from Texas that allows us to both examine in detail the paths that students take towards a bachelor's degree and estimate how multiple institution enrollment is related to degree completion and subsequent earnings. We show that the paths to a bachelor's degree are diverse and that earnings and BA receipt vary systematically with these paths. Our results call attention to the importance of developing a more complete understanding of why students transfer and what causal role transferring has on the returns to postsecondary educational investment.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19935

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