Under IPEDS Measures, Some Graduates and Transfers Still Considered Dropouts

When Chantel Hampton earned her bachelor’s degree in history from Towson University in Maryland, she was surprised to learn she would be forever considered a college dropout.

“It’s disconcerting,” says Hampton, now 31 and a designer in Maryland. “They’re going by archaic standards.”

Hampton is one of millions of college graduates who are considered college dropouts based on the rigid — many now say unrealistic — criteria used by the federal government’s principal postsecondary education data collection program.

Under the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, known in academia as IPEDS and established in 1992 as part of the federal Higher Education Act, a four-year institution is not allowed to count a student in its graduation rate if the student was a transfer student from another four-year institution or a community college, like Hampton. Hampton originally enrolled in Drexel University in Philadelphia, but transferred to Towson to complete her education.

First-time students who enroll as part-time students also can never be counted as a graduate, even if they graduate, under the IPEDS measures. Additionally, community college students who transfer without a degree to a four-year institution and eventually earn a degree cannot be counted among that four-year institution’s graduates.

“IPEDS is telling only one small part of the story” of the state of higher education, says Dr. Doug Shapiro, executive research director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, the nation’s principal data exchange for colleges registrars. “They need to get the rest of the story.” <Read more.>

Via Reginald Stuart, Diverse Issues in Higher Education.