Disabilities and Degrees: Identifying Health Impairments that Predict Lower Chances of College Enrollment and Graduation in a Nationally Representative Sample

Colleges have increased postsecondary educational access for youth, including individuals with disabilities, but completion rates remain low. This study tests the hypothesis that health conditions that reduce social integration predict lower educational attainment among college students. Method: The sample from the nationally
representative Add Health (National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent and Adult Health) data (1995, 2001, 2008) comprised respondents in 2001 whose highest degree was a high school diploma (n = 9,909), focusing on subsamples of students enrolled in 2-year colleges and 4-year colleges (n = 1,494; n = 2,721). For each of 57 health conditions in 2001, the relative risk of earning certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree in 2008 was estimated, controlling for precollege factors, including high school grades, test scores, parents’ household income, and full-time enrollment. Results: Health conditions associated with social stigma predicted lower educational attainment among 2-year college students including stuttering, being overweight, and health that restricts engaging in vigorous sports. A broader range of health conditions predicted lower educational attainment among 4-year college students, including restrictions on climbing one and several flights of stairs and walking one and several blocks. Contributions: Stigmatized health conditions may disproportionately reduce educational attainment by impacting students’ social integration in 2-year colleges. Improved awareness may reduce the impact of unconscious stigma. Until 4-year colleges improve accommodations, students may benefit by earning credentials at 2-year colleges before transferring to 4-year institutions.

Rosenbaum, Janet E. (2018). Disabilities and Degrees: Identifying Health Impairments that Predict Lower Chances of College Enrollment and Graduation in a Nationally Representative Sample. Community College Review, 46, 145-175 https://doi.org/10.1177/0091552118762630

[health, matriculation, college completion, social integration, stuttering]


About rickyWburk

Ricky W. Burk, CCC-SLP, BCS-F, is a speech-language pathologist who provides in-home therapy for adolescents and adults residing in Tennessee and Mississippi who stutter. His career includes PreK, elementary, middle, and high school practice, undergraduate & graduate faculty appointments, skilled nursing, national & international consultation, private practice, and national & international speaking presentations. He holds the American Speech-Language Hearing Association Certificate of Clinical Competence, and he is a Board Certified Specialist in Fluency Disorders. He is the ASHA Continuing Education Administrator for the National Association for Speech Fluency.
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