A Multiple-Spells Competing-Risks Model of Student Departure from College

Dennis A. Ahlburg, University of Minnesota
Stephen L. DesJardins, University of Michigan
Brian McCall, University of Minnesota

ABSTRACT Using data from three entering cohorts of undergraduates at a large Research Intensive university, we estimate a multiple-spells competing-risks model of student departure from college. Of particular interest is the impact of an initial stopout on the occurrence and length of future stopouts, and how stopouts, particularly multiple stopouts, affect the probability of graduation. We demonstrate that students who experience a stopout are more likely to experience a subsequent stopout, and that this pattern of enrollment behavior is very detrimental to one’s chances of graduating, especially in a timely fashion. We also find evidence of duration dependence in enrollment and stopout spells. That is, as the average time in enrollment (stopout) spells increases, the more (less) likely students are to graduate. JEL classification: I21

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Presented in Session 26: Education Enrollment and Attainment