Crossing the Finish Line: Completing college at America's public universities

William G. Bowen
Matthew M. Chingos
Michael S. McPherson


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This book analyzes patterns of educational attainment as it is shaping both individuals’ life trajectory and economic prospect of this country. The first chapter focuses on disparities of educational attainment across race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or gender among full-time undergraduate students in public universities. Whether the disparities are narrowed over the past 25 years is discussed in the chapter 2. In chapter 3, the authors direct readers attention to details of new dataset about graduation rates across student sub-groups. They employ hazard rate model to recognize when the withdrawals happen. Chapter 4 examines sub-group difference in other academic variables, such as choice of academic majors, grades, and time to degree completion. The authors found moderate difference across student sub groups. Chapter 5 sheds light on the issue of “undermatching,” mismatch between the level of college preparation in high school and the level of university the students actually get in. Chapter 6 investigates the measures of student ability, SAT/ACT tests, grades and subject specific achievement tests. Chapter 7 engages in comparison between transfer students and students who entered as a freshman. Chapter 8 gives a overview on financial aid programs and chapter 9 address whether need-based grant aid affect graduation rate. Chapter 10 focuses on institutional characteristic on graduation rates. Chapter 11 looks at underrepresented students (especially black men and hispanic students, student from low-SES background ), and discuss institutional interventions that could help persistence. Chapter 12 suggests possibility to transform national programs that grant financial aids.

APA Citation

Bowen, W. G., Chingos, M. M., & McPherson, M. S. (2009). Crossing the finish line: Completing college at America's public universities (Vol. 52). Princeton University Press.

About the Study

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Publication Type Book
In Publication Princeton University Press
Type of Research Quantitative
Research Design Survey research (qualitative or quantitative), Other
Intervention/Areas of Study Other
Level of Analysis Student-level
Specific Populations Examined Minority status, Undergraduates, Underrepresented - general
Peer-Reviewed Yes
Specific Institutional Characteristics of Interest 4-year Institution, Bachelors-granting, Public
Specific Course or Program Characteristics
Outcome Variables of Interest Course completion, Persistence, Retention
Student Sample Size
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