Study Shows Only 53 Percent of Four-Year College Students Graduate Within Six Years

Justify FullAmerican Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, released a report this week that provides some interesting insight about graduation rates at colleges and universities nationwide.

The executive summary said:

"At a time when college degrees are valuable -- with employers paying a premium for college graduates -- fewer than 60 percent of new students graduated from four-year colleges within six years. At many institutions, graduation rates are far worse. Graduation rates may be of limited import to students attending the couple hundred elite, specialized institutions that dominate the popular imagination, but there are vast disparities -- even among schools educating similar students -- at the less selective institutions that educate the bulk of America's college students.

"At a time when President Barack Obama is proposing vast new investments to promote college attendance and co1mpletion, and has announced an intention to see the United States regain leadership in such tallies, these results take on heightened significance."

You can read the full report and search for results from individual schools [PDF], which are listed by level of competitiveness.

USA Today summarized the report, saying:

"Among schools that require only a high school diploma for admission, Walla Walla University and Heritage University, both in Washington state, reported graduation rates of 53 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

"Among colleges that require high school grades averaging a B-minus or better, John Carroll University in Cleveland and Chicago State University in Illinois graduated 74 percent vs. 16 percent, respectively.

"In the 'most competitive' group, Amherst College in Massachusetts and Reed College in Portland, Ore., graduated 96 percent vs. 76 percent, respectively.

"The data have limits: They don't account for students who transfer, for example. And they should not be used as a sole measure of quality, the report says, because 'schools should not be unfairly penalized for maintaining high standards.'"

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    Al Tompkins

    Al Tompkins is The Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcasting and online. He has taught thousands of journalists, journalism students and educators in newsrooms around the world.


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