Students who attended college but didn’t earn a credential were more likely to hold a job and earned more than their peers who stopped at high school, new research finds.
Much of the attention around rising college costs and loan debt has focused on students who never earn a credential, with conventional wisdom holding that they wasted time and money in the process.
But a new study found that attending college typically isn’t a waste of time, even for students who fail to graduate.
The research found “very substantial increases in employability and income” for this group of former students, who attended community college or a four-year institution, said Paul Attewell, a professor of sociology at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, who co-wrote the paper with Matt Giani, a research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin’s Office of Strategy and Policy, and David Walling, a software developer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at UT.
These benefits extend across various student groups. But the paper said low-income students, women and students of color generally experienced the biggest labor-market bump from college attendance.
Previous studies have been mixed on the payoff for students who hold some college credits but no credential.