Research Allies for Lifelong Learning

Early Enrollees vs. Late Enrollees

In our analysis of 2004 GED® testing data, we found that the largest number of GED passers – about 50,000 per semester – enrolled in college during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 academic years (we refer to these as early enrollees).

  • Early enrollees did not all attend consistently, however; about 12,000 GED  passers enrolled continuously in both academic years 
  • In contrast, approximately 38,000 GED passers per semester enrolled in the final two academic years of the study, 2008-09 and 2009-10 (we refer to these as late enrollees)
  • These GED passers showed a bit more consistency across time – about 13,000 enrolled continuously in both academic years. This difference may reflect economic pressure on jobseekers in need of postsecondary skills, as late enrollees were in college at the high point of the economic turndown beginning in late 2007/early 2008


Demographically early enrollees were similar to late enrollees, yet their outcomes differed: 

  • About 55% were female 
  • 83% completed at least one year of high school 
  • Approximately one-fourth of both groups were employed full time when testing 
  • However, 45% of early enrollees graduated from college, in contrast with 33% of late enrollees. One possible explanation for the difference is that early enrollees capitalized on the momentum of passing the GED test by enrolling right away and felt motivated to complete a postsecondary program. An even more compelling explanation for the difference is that early enrollees had more time to graduate from their postsecondary programs than late enrollees, who perhaps continued after the period of study.