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Part-Time College Students Less Likely to Graduate Within Six Years, Report Says

Sean MacEntee/flickr
Sixty-seven percent of Central Texas college students work while they're in school.

Two-thirds of the area’s college students work while they attend school, according to a report coming out next week on Texas' education landscape.

Many students who work while attending college are not full-time students. In fact, in Central Texas, “80 percent of our high school graduates who go into two-year colleges are enrolling part-time,” says Christine Bailie with the E3 Alliance.

When a student is enrolled part-time, that usually means they have a higher risk of not receiving a degree. According to the E3 Alliance, only 16 percent of part-time students in the region receive a degree in six years. There are many reasons as to why, says Austin Buchan with local company College Forward.

“There’s not really a silver bullet that’s affecting our students. It’s really more of a death by a thousand cuts that’s happening,” he says.

College Forward helps high school students not only get into college, but complete their post-secondary programs. Students who enroll part-time often have other responsibilities: work, family. Or they have trouble paying for college. Buchan says the conversation in recent years has changed from “how to get students to enroll in college” to “how to get them to complete college and leave with a degree.”   He says that’s vital to Central Texas’ economic growth.

“It’s estimated that 60 percent are going to require a post-secondary degree by 2020. And we’re only about 30 percent of that number right now. So we have a long way to go," says Buchan. "We have to double the number of degrees our current high school students are completing by 2020, and that’s a daunting task.”

Buchan and the E3 alliance will present its yearly Central Texas education profile next Wednesday.