Higher Education Graduation Rates Leave a Lot to Be Desired

global computer technology conceptCollege tuition is increasing faster than health care costs, college debt averages more than $29,000, and total debt is over a trillion dollars.  Gees, can it get any worse? Yes, what is worse is if you apply, get accepted, take some classes, and then don’t end up with a degree. As a result, you incur the debt without any of the economic benefits of the degree.

 College graduation rates are abysmal. The 2012 graduation rate for first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year degree-granting institution in fall 2006 and completed the degree 6 years later was 59%. For public institutions the percentage was 57%.  For selective institutions, the rates are higher, and for institutions with open admission policies the rates are much lower (33%).

As a career development professional working with individuals who wish to obtain a college degree, you are in a position to help them select a program of study, the institution that can provide it, and information on the general success rate for degree attainment. Do you check the graduation rates of the institution?  If not, you should.

Here are some resources that can help you understand the completion rate for various colleges, universities, and training programs.

The US Department of Education’s site, the College Score Card, provides more than the graduation rate, but also debt, costs, and loan default rates. http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/higher-education/college-score-card

From the Chronicle of Higher Education’s site, you can see the completion rates and costs for universities and colleges state-by-state, public and private, and non-profit and for-profit. http://collegecompletion.chronicle.com/

On this site, http://www.collegeresults.org/, you can obtain institutional information that includes retention rates, graduation rates for 4, 5, and 6 years, the transfer rate, the tuition and other costs, and demographics.

The National Center for Education Statistics has what is likely the most comprehensive site for education statistics. Here you can find tuition, retention and graduation rates, enrollment, accreditation, programs of study, and much more. http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/

The Education Trust has an interactive site for counselors, parents, and policy makers to determine an institution’s completion rates. On this site you can also compare graduation rates for schools with similar cohorts of students. http://www.edtrust.org/issues/higher-education/college-results-online

Recently colleges and universities have stepped into the picture indicating that the published completion rates is underestimated because transfer students are not recognized in the mix. As of this writing more than 250 institutions have joined this consortium, the Student Achievement Measure, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The site still does not represent the full number of colleges and universities, but the list of participants is growing. The basic contention is that the completion rates are actually slightly higher than what is reported on the previous sites listed in this article. http://www.studentachievementmeasure.org/ 

Working with my career services colleagues, I am well aware of the pressure being put on staff to increase degree completion rates.  What’s happening at your institution? Post your reply here.

CEUonetstop.com has several courses which relate to the general issues in the article.

Occupational Information for the Career Advisor

Becoming College and Career Ready – Multiple Pathways to Success

Realistic Career Decision Making: It’s More Than Passion

Labor Market Information for Career, Workforce, and Academic Counselors

Completion of these courses results in the attainment of clock hours related to your various professional certifications.  CEUonestop is a National Board of Certified Counselors official continuing education provider.


One thought on “Higher Education Graduation Rates Leave a Lot to Be Desired

  1. Wow! Eye opening. As a parent of a 14 year old, conversations about college are common. Had not considered the drop out rate. Thank you for the reminder.

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