National Student Clearinghouse: New college graduates decline; more students "stacking" degrees

October 20, 2015
  • AACRAO Connect
  • Transfer and Articulation
Female standing in front of a red brick wall with a world map displayed on it.

According to a report released by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC), the number of new college graduates in the United States declined for the second straight year  in 2013-14, but the number of students “stacking” undergraduate credentials continued to rise.      

The center revealed that the percentage of first time undergraduate, not returning students accounted for 71 percent of college graduates in 2014, compared to 75 percent in 2011.  In contrast, the percentage of degree recipients earning additional undergraduate degrees, or stacking credentials, increased from 25 to 29 percent. 

The NSCRC report also found: 

  • Cumulatively, U.S. institutions added over eight million new graduates to the stock of adults with an associate or bachelor’s degree during the four-year period covered in the report (2010-11 to 2013-14).
  • Decline in new graduates was concentrated among women. Over the four-year period, the count of new college graduates who were women decreased by 0.4 percent, but increased 2.2 percent for men. 
  • Decline in new graduates was concentrated among older students. Over the four-year period, the number of new college graduates produced among the 25-and-over categories dropped 6.6 percent, but increased 4.4 percent for those under the age of 25.
  • Decline occurred across all major institutional sectors (2-year public, 4-year public, 4-year private non-profit, and 4-year private for-profit) and all credential levels (certificate, associate, and bachelor’s degrees)

 “As student educational pathways become longer and more complex, it is no longer sufficient simply to count the number of degrees awarded,” stated Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “Students are increasingly starting with a postsecondary certificate before earning a degree, and starting with an associates’ before earning a bachelor’s degree.”

Student mobility trends

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center will be co-hosting an AACRAO webinar, “Comings and Goings: Understanding student mobility patterns to help you find, and keep, the students you want.” The session will explore the latest patterns of student mobility and transfer, as revealed in the recent NSCRC report, Transfer & Mobility: A National View of Student Movement in Postsecondary Institutions. 

These national and state-level data illuminate where, when, and why, today's students are engaging with multiple institutions in pursuit of their educational goals, and how you can find insights to help them succeed.  Join the live free webinar session for a stimulating discussion with Douglas Shapiro, Executive Research Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, Thursday, November 12, 2:00-3:00pm ET.  Click here to register. 

Next professional development Conference at AACRAO SEM (November 1-4 in Hollywood, Florida). 

The SEM conference provides the most comprehensive and current information and training for managing student enrollment.  With sessions led by experienced, successful enrollment leaders, you and your team will have access to the latest concepts and innovative practices in strategic enrollment management.  As we head towards our 25th SEM Conference, we celebrate by offering you a curriculum that ties together the major concepts in the field through workshops and sessions.  New this year is our team experience.  Bring four or more from your campus to the SEM Conference and receive additional benefits through mentorship and guidance on planning SEM at your institution.  The conference is only two weeks away and you still have time, register today.  


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