Video and SPSS Syntax: Deleting Select Cases Using the National Student Clearinghouse Individual Detail Return File

There may be some situations where you would want to delete select records from an individual return file. For example, you may have a project where you are looking at student enrollment after graduation or transfer, and it is decided that your particular project will only include records for which a student was enrolled for more than 30 days in a fall/spring term or more than 10 days in a summer term. Or, you may have six years of records for a particular cohort, but you only want to examine records for four years. In both of these cases, you would want to delete the records that don’t fit your criteria before analyzing your data.

In this video & in the syntax posted below, I’m going to:

  1. Remove records for enrollment of 30 days or less for a fall/spring term or 10 days or less for a summer term
  2. Remove records that occurred outside of a particular date range (while I don’t highlight the beginning part of the range in the video, having the a range allows you to make sure you are not picking up courses (such as, for example, late ending summer courses) that you may not want in your file.

I have kept the syntax separate for the two so that they can be used independently of each other if need be for different projects. Additionally, while I selected 30 days as my cut off for a fall/spring term and 10 days as my cut off for a summer term for this example, selecting the appropriate number for a project can get complicated, especially if winter term or other accelerated sessions are in the mix.

I’m going to run the deletion of cases in two ways:

  1. Keeping only those with records found that meet the criteria (deleting the no record found cases, the cases where the one record found was too low of an enrollment period, and the cases where the one record found was after a particular date).
  2. Keeping a record for everyone, including the no record found cases and, after modification, those with only one record that has a) too few enrollment days or b) occurs outside of a project-specified date range.

This syntax opens in a txt document; simply copy/paste all into a SPSS syntax file and run.
Note that a few comments had been added to the syntax file that was seen in the video.

Deleting Select Cases From a Detail Individual Return File