Research in Higher Education

, Volume 58, Issue 3, pp 270–294 | Cite as

Postsecondary Student Persistence and Pathways: Evidence From the YITS-A in Canada

  • Stephen E. Childs
  • Ross Finnie
  • Felice MartinelloEmail author


The Youth in Transition Survey is used to follow the postsecondary education (PSE) pathways and outcomes of Canadian youth over the mid 2000s. Students starting at community colleges and four year universities are analyzed separately. First program outcomes are reported, showing the proportions of students who leave their first programs but remain in PSE by switching/transferring to other programs, institutions, or levels. Multinomial regression estimates correlates of students’ first program switching and leaving decisions. Five year graduation rates are calculated to show the importance of different pathways (across programs, institutions, and levels) to earning a PSE credential; in the aggregate and for subgroups of students. Transfers constitute important but not terribly large pathways for Canadian students to adjust their PSE and obtain PSE credentials. We calculate the resulting extent to which institution specific measures of persistence, PSE leaving, and graduation rates misstate the rates experienced by students. Compared to American students, university and community college starters in Canada have higher persistence and graduation rates and lower transfer rates across institutions. For community college starters, much of the difference is due to the relative lack of well defined pathways from community colleges to universities in Canada. We find that students with more family resources are better able to transfer across programs or institutions in order to obtain a PSE credential.


Postsecondary education Persistence Graduation rates Transfers Canada 



The authors wish to thank Theresa (Hanquin) Qiu for her excellent work in the earlier stages of this project, and the Statistics Canada Research Data Centres for providing access to the YITS data.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Office of Institutional AnalysisUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Graduate School of Public and International AffairsUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsBrock UniversitySt.CatharinesCanada
  4. 4.Education Policy Research Initiative (EPRI)University of OttawaOttawaCanada

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