Heterogeneous Paths Through College: Detailed Patterns and Relationships with Graduation and Earnings
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.
We would like to thank Ron Ehrenberg and Josh Kinsler as well as participants at the American Economic Association Annual Meetings for helpful comments and suggestions. We also thank Priyanka Singh for excellent research assistance. All errors, conclusions and omissions are our own, and the conclusions of this research do not necessarily reflect the opinions or official position of the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, or the State of Texas. This research was funded by grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Smith Richardson Foundation. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Andrews, Rodney & Li, Jing & Lovenheim, Michael F., 2014. "Heterogeneous paths through college: Detailed patterns and relationships with graduation and earnings," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 93-108. citation courtesy of