A Few Interesting Stats on College Completion

1 Comment


Plans thwarted?

Community colleges don’t trumpet this, but according to a new National Center for Education Statistics (US) report, not many of their students complete the degrees they set out to complete. Only 31% of those degree- or certificate-seeking students at two-year degree-granting institutions do complete their credential “within 150% of the normal time required to do so.” The percentage is lowest at public institutions, with just 20% of those students completing their degrees.

Important caveats: these numbers don’t count those who transfer out to another school before graduating; and also, in this study, full-time, first-time students only are counted.

Thus it wouldn’t be quite accurate to say that less than a third of community college students who declare a goal of X degree or certificate actually finish . . . but I think we can say many students’ plans do change, and certainly though some transfer out elsewhere, not everyone does.

Four-year schools’ completion rates, by contrast, are significantly higher at 59% (over 6 years); and as one might expect, the more selective the admissions, the higher the completion rate. In fact, institutions that accept fewer than 25% of applicants see 88% of their students complete Bachelor’s degrees, while institutions with open admissions policies see 31% of theirs graduate (again, transfers out aren’t counted).

I think these numbers indicate that, for new college students, “the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men” often do go awry – and the selective admissions stats hint that being college-ready has serious consequences for the prospect of college graduation.

National Center for Education Statistics website: “The Condition of Education – Institutional Retention and Graduation Rates for Undergraduate Students”:

Image via mrg.bz / gracey

Completing College: Harsh Realities


GraduationHere’s an important read from the Complete College America Foundation. The extensive report, titled “Time is the Enemy,” has gotten a fair amount of press in the last few days.

Among the findings: few part-time college students graduate, students who need remediation are much less likely to graduate, and students take too many classes in excess of what they need to graduate. The study also suggests these problems are systemic, and prescribes some plans of action to fix them.

I can echo this report from my experience: many of my own community college students do not end up graduating – or for that matter, do not finish my classes. They withdraw somewhere along the way, many times simply vanishing without a trace (that is, without consulting instructors, academic counselors, or registration staff). While this behavior must be discouraging to many of those students, it’s also discouraging to those instructors and counselors, who likely would have been able to provide guidance for course completion — if the students had asked.

Consider the following if you do wish to graduate college:
1) Fortunately, college prep is one thing you can work to improve for yourself. Remember, poor academic preparation is linked to poor college graduation rates.
2) Students sometimes are poorly informed about college’s rigor and intensity. In addition to being academically prepared, students need a certain mental toughness and sense of perseverance. 
3) Students may fail to complete their academic goals as they find they’ve overestimated their abilities.  

Thus it’s important to prepare for college academically as much as you can. If you aren’t close to any college-graduate adults, consider talking with your high school guidance counselor about college’s demands on students. Also, it’s important, early in your college career, to establish a professional relationship with your academic advisor. Be assertive about this; don’t wait for an advisor to come to you. So many floundering students don’t use academic advisors’ services, and consequently they suffer in silence.

Good luck, and I think you’ll find  “Time is the Enemy” to be well worth your attention if college is part of your future.

Related article:


“What Students Don’t Know About Community College Could Hurt Them,” Thad Nodine, Higher Ed Watch, New America Foundation, 10/26/10

Image via mrg.bz / kakisky

%d bloggers like this: