October 6, 2011
Graduation rates show higher ed should change setup for nontraditional students
(Nancy Van Valkenburg, Standard-Examiner) — Only 16 percent of Utah public college and university students who enroll full time at in-state, four-year programs actually graduate four years later, a national study of college-completion rates has found.
Give the same group another two years, and you’ll get an extra 24 graduates per 100 original enrollees. Double the original four years to eight, and you’ll get eight additional grads, for a total of 48 graduates per 100 enrollees.
And the graduation numbers are lower for part-time students working toward a four-year degree. For every 100 who enroll, just 25 will have degrees eight years later.
“Nationally, half the students don’t complete their B.A., and the numbers are dramatically worse when you look at low-income and minority groups,” said Dominique Raymond, spokeswoman for Complete College America, the nonprofit group that did the national study, which included data from only 33 states.
“Students don’t finish because life gets in the way.”
Many universities set up their programs for the students of earlier generations. Those students’ parents paid for tuition, food and housing, which allowed the students to focus and finish on time.
But student enrollment today includes many more people who are holding down full-time jobs, who have families that require their attention and who are struggling to pay their own tuition, Raymond said.
“Higher education in the United States has made terrific strides in terms of access,” she said. “Now it’s an issue of success and completion.”
Students who don’t complete their certificate programs, associate or bachelor’s degrees leave school without the career advantages that come with a degree, but they often carry tuition debt. More…Posted by: psilberman