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”:

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