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Stayers, Swirlers, and Re-Enrollers: Understanding the Trajectory of College Students

By Sylvia Hurtado, Linda Deangelo, Chelsea Guillermo-Wann, Sutee Sujitparapitaya, Aurora Kamimura


This presentation of data on student success in four-year programs was given at AAC&U’s 2010 conference, Facing the Divides: Diversity, Learning, and Pathways to Inclusive Excellence. The data were gathered by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA.

From the session description:

Too often the research on degree attainment focuses on students who are continuously enrolled at the same institution. Though valuable, this research cannot help us understand degree attainment patterns of students who attend multiple institutions (often referred to as swirling) and/or have non-consecutive enrollment, groups that include higher numbers of non-traditional students. Using data from the CIRP Freshman Survey and enrollment and completion data from the National Student Clearinghouse, the facilitators will present research on the degree attainment trajectories for all three groups—“swirlers,” “stayers,” and “re-enrollers.” They will also share degree attainment models that campuses can use to predict retention for underrepresented racial minority students, in particular. Two campuses that are using these models and data to improve their retention efforts will share their experiences and lessons learned, and discussion will center on developing policies and practices to ensure student success.