Stopping at the starting line: college students who assess but don't enroll

In a case study of a northern California urban community college, it was found that 25% of applicants who participated in matriculation did not enroll in courses. This contradiction between completing matriculation but not enrolling in community college courses has institutional and personal costs. Institutions expend considerable resources managing application documents, organizing testing instruments and facilities, and using counselors. On the personal side, individuals who sought post-secondary education did not meet their goals. A mixed-methods sequential explanatory strategy was used to analyze the institutional and personal factors that contribute to applicant failure to enroll. Analysis of the data suggested that applicants require more contact with institutional advisors at the beginning of the matriculation process to sustain them. Applicants who made it to the counseling phase of matriculation and had more then 30 minutes of contact with a counselor were more likely to enroll. The majority of Enrollees did so without seeing a counselor and may skip assessment. The Interviewee data provided insight on matriculation issues rising from organizational and deployment policies from a perspective not readily found in the literature. Although this study had a small sample, practitioners are encouraged to evaluate their institutional enrollment trends for similarities and use this study’s data as a starting point for future research. The Interviewee demographics represent first-generation, historically underrepresented college applicants. From a customer-service perspective, better access to advice about going to college and an overhaul of the matriculation process would make college services more user-friendly. Educational-leadership theory was used to share the study data with research-site practitioners in an effort to evaluate the college’s matriculation policies.