I know a bunch of parents who expect their teenagers to graduate from college in four years.
Many of them are dreaming. Forty percent of students can’t even graduate from college in six years!
Colleges and universities often blame students for this dismal record. But if it’s the kids who are slackers, how come schools with similar academic profiles experience wildly different graduation rates?
In my last post, I wrote about a new study from the American Enterprise Institute that illustrated how peer institutions are graduating their students at strangely different rates.
I want to provide some examples from the study. Let’s take a look at schools with some of the best and worst grad rates in the highly competitive category. According to the authors, a school is classified as highly competitive if it admits students with average grades of “B” to “B+.” The students at these schools submitted median freshman SAT scores of 620 to 654 and scores of 27 to 28 on the ACT.
Among these highly competitive schools, Babson College and Mount Holyoke enjoyed the best six-year grad average at 89%, with the University of California, Berkeley (88%) and University of Michigan (88%) tied for second.
Now let’s look at some of the highly competitive schools that are in the cellar with their six-year grad rates: New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (44%), St. John College (New Mexico campus) (56%), New College of Florida (56%) and SUNY Stony Brook University (59%).
I’d urge you to take a look at the study because it also contains tables that compare grad rates of schools that share the same geographic area. That’s particularly helpful since 56% of college freshmen attend school within 100 miles of their home. Let me state the obvious here: Most families can’t afford four years at many colleges and universities much less six years or more.
So when evaluating any school be sure to ask about its graduation track record. The easiest place to find four-, five- and six-year grad rates is at the Education Trust’s CollegeResults.org.
Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and also a college blogger at CBSMoneyWatch.com.