Research in Higher Education

, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 166–195 | Cite as

Postsecondary Co-enrollment and Baccalaureate Completion: A Look at Both Beginning 4-Year College Students and Baccalaureate Aspirants Beginning at Community Colleges



Research examining diversifying college enrollment patterns has gradually gained attention in recent years. Yet, few studies have focused on postsecondary co-enrollment and its different forms such as co-enrolling at institutions of the same level (lateral co-enrollment) and attending a 4- and 2-year institution simultaneously (vertical co-enrollment), and their distinctive relationship with baccalaureate completion and college persistence. Drawing upon data from the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS:04/09) and the Postsecondary Education Transcript Study (PETS:09), this study investigated the relationship between co-enrollment and baccalaureate completion and college persistence among beginning 4-year institution students and baccalaureate-aspiring beginning community college students who first accessed postsecondary education in 2003–2004. Results indicated that vertical co-enrollment appeared to have a positive relationship with baccalaureate attainment and persistence among students beginning at 4-year institutions as well as baccalaureate-aspiring community college beginners, while lateral co-enrollment did not demonstrate a significant association with attainment and persistence across both student groups. Policy implications and suggestions for future research are also discussed.


Postsecondary co-enrollment Lateral co-enrollment Vertical co-enrollment College persistence Time-to-degree Baccalaureate attainment Community colleges 



This study was supported by a 2012–2013 Fall Research Competition Grant awarded by the Graduate School Research Committee at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Alexander McCormick and two anonymous reviewers of Research in Higher Education provided helpful comments on earlier drafts of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Leadership and Policy AnalysisUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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