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USNWR 2009: Looking at the Data XXI (4-Year Graduation Rates)

hawkettehawkette 4568 replies295 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,863 Senior Member
edited November 2008 in College Search & Selection
The publication of the 2009 USNWR College Rankings provides an opportunity to compare schools based on a wide variety of data points. In this and in threads to follow, I urge the reader to think less about the absolute rankings and more about the nature and value-added of the data point being discussed.

4-Year Graduation Rate , National University

90% , Notre Dame
90% , Georgetown
89% , Princeton
88% , Harvard
88% , Boston Coll
87% , Yale
87% , U Penn
87% , Dartmouth
86% , Columbia
86% , Duke
86% , Northwestern
85% , Vanderbilt
85% , Brandeis
84% , U Chicago
84% , Cornell
84% , Johns Hopkins
84% , Brown
84% , U Virginia
84% , Tufts
84% , W&M
83% , MIT
83% , Wash U
82% , Caltech
82% , Emory
80% , Stanford
79% , Wake Forest
78% , Rice
78% , NYU
72% , Lehigh
71% , U North Carolina
70% , Carnegie Mellon
70% , U Michigan
70% , U Rochester
66% , UCLA
66% , USC
66% , Rensselaer
66% , Tulane
64% , UC Santa Barbara
63% , U Illinois
61% , UC Berkeley
59% , Case Western
58% , Penn State
56% , UCSD
53% , U Florida
51% , UC Irvine
48% , U Washington
48% , Yeshiva
47% , U Wisconsin
47% , U Texas
43% , UC Davis
33% , Georgia Tech


4-Year Graduation Rate , LAC

91% , Williams
91% , Swarthmore
91% , Carleton
91% , Davidson
88% , Vassar
87% , W&L
86% , Middlebury
86% , Pomona
86% , Haverford
85% , Wellesley
85% , Claremont McK
85% , Colgate
84% , Amherst
84% , Wesleyan
84% , Colby
83% , Bowdoin
83% , Smith
83% , Hamilton
83% , Bates
83% , Macalester
82% , US Naval Acad
81% , Grinnell
80% , Bryn Mawr
77% , Harvey Mudd
66% , Oberlin

na , US Military Acad
edited November 2008
10 replies
Post edited by hawkette on
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Replies to: USNWR 2009: Looking at the Data XXI (4-Year Graduation Rates)

  • nocousinnocousin 790 replies51 discussions- Posts: 841 Member
    Some graduation rates are skewed by financial issues, transfers out (sometimes to higher ranking schools, but sometimes lower ranking and less stressful) and sometimes by the inability to get the courses necessary for graduation within a 4 year time frame (this happens mostly at large state flagship schools where you can be blocked out of classes by the computer when they have limited class sizes). Its by NO MEASURE an indication of the quality of education or even the student body. Some schools will cancel classes unless 10 or more students sign up, and others will run classes with 2 students in them. Students leaving a school (and dropping its graduation rates) may leave for reasons totally unrelated to the quality of education. So why do Georgetown, Princeton and Notre Dame always fare so well in this category? I dont know. Kids at those schools all tend to be upper middle class and may have fewer financial problems. All three of those schools tap into huge percentages of kids from prestigious prep schools. They dont exactly have a high percentage of minorities there and certainly a very LOW percentage of at risk kids.

    In short, I think this category is not very helpful, but may be something to look at considering how hard it is to get the requisite coursework done (availability of classes) in a 4 year time frame.
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  • hoedownhoedown 3742 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,751 Senior Member
    nocousin,

    You've left out program mix. Schools with large engineering enrollments and other professional programs that typically run more than four years are going to have lower 4-year graduation rates--for reasons that have NOTHING to do with quality, student satisfaction, availability of courses required for graduation, or transfer rates.
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  • 1980collegegrad1980collegegrad 1350 replies153 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,503 Senior Member
    If you want the actual list in the 2009 US News & World Reports (can also be seen at Best Colleges - Education - US News and World Report):

    Best Colleges: Highest graduation rates
    Following are the schools with the highest rates of students who graduate in four years.

    St. Francis Medical Center College of Nursing Peoria, IL 4-year graduation rate:
    92 %
    Williams College Williamstown, MA 4-year graduation rate:
    91 %
    Swarthmore College Swarthmore, PA 4-year graduation rate:
    91 %
    Davidson College Davidson, NC 4-year graduation rate:
    91 %
    Carleton College Northfield, MN 4-year graduation rate:
    91 %
    Georgetown University Washington, DC 4-year graduation rate:
    90 %
    University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN 4-year graduation rate:
    90 %
    Princeton University Princeton, NJ 4-year graduation rate:
    89 %
    Harvard University Cambridge, MA 4-year graduation rate:
    88 %
    College of the Holy Cross Worcester, MA 4-year graduation rate:
    88 %
    Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA 4-year graduation rate:
    88 %
    Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY 4-year graduation rate:
    88 %
    Washington and Lee University Lexington, VA 4-year graduation rate:
    87 %
    University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 4-year graduation rate:
    87 %
    Yale University New Haven, CT 4-year graduation rate:
    87 %
    Dartmouth College Hanover, NH 4-year graduation rate:
    87 %
    Haverford College Haverford, PA 4-year graduation rate:
    86 %
    Northwestern University Evanston, IL 4-year graduation rate:
    86 %
    Cleveland Institute of Music Cleveland, OH 4-year graduation rate:
    86 %
    Duke University Durham, NC 4-year graduation rate:
    86 %
    Pomona College Claremont, CA 4-year graduation rate:
    86 %
    Columbia University New York, NY 4-year graduation rate:
    86 %
    Bucknell University Lewisburg, PA 4-year graduation rate:
    86 %
    Middlebury College Middlebury, VT 4-year graduation rate:
    86 %
    Brandeis University Waltham, MA 4-year graduation rate:
    85 %
    Wellesley College Wellesley, MA 4-year graduation rate:
    85 %
    Colgate University Hamilton, NY 4-year graduation rate:
    85 %
    Providence College Providence, RI 4-year graduation rate:
    85 %
    Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN 4-year graduation rate:
    85 %
    Lafayette College Easton, PA 4-year graduation rate:
    85 %
    Claremont McKenna College Claremont, CA 4-year graduation rate:
    85 %
    Babson College Babson Park, MA 4-year graduation rate:
    85 %
    Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year graduation rate:
    84 %
    University of Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year graduation rate:
    84 %
    Tufts University Medford, MA 4-year graduation rate:
    84 %
    University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA 4-year graduation rate:
    84 %
    Wesleyan University Middletown, CT 4-year graduation rate:
    84 %
    Colby College Waterville, ME 4-year graduation rate:
    84 %
    College of William and Mary Williamsburg, VA 4-year graduation rate:
    84 %
    Brown University Providence, RI 4-year graduation rate:
    84 %
    Amherst College Amherst, MA 4-year graduation rate:
    84 %
    Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD 4-year graduation rate:
    84 %
    Bates College Lewiston, ME 4-year graduation rate:
    83 %
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 4-year graduation rate:
    83 %
    Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO 4-year graduation rate:
    83 %
    Hamilton College Clinton, NY 4-year graduation rate:
    83 %
    Smith College Northampton, MA 4-year graduation rate:
    83 %
    Bowdoin College Brunswick, ME 4-year graduation rate:
    83 %
    Macalester College St. Paul, MN 4-year graduation rate:
    83 %
    Emory University Atlanta, GA 4-year graduation rate:
    82 %
    Barnard College New York, NY 4-year graduation rate:
    82 %
    Kenyon College Gambier, OH 4-year graduation rate:
    82 %
    United States Naval Academy Annapolis, MD 4-year graduation rate:
    82 %
    Stonehill College Easton, MA 4-year graduation rate:
    82 %
    Villanova University Villanova, PA 4-year graduation rate:
    82 %
    California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA 4-year graduation rate:
    82 %
    St. Olaf College Northfield, MN 4-year graduation rate:
    82 %
    University of Richmond Univ. of Richmond, VA 4-year graduation rate:
    81 %
    Grinnell College Grinnell, IA 4-year graduation rate:
    81 %
    Sacred Heart Major Seminary Detroit, MI 4-year graduation rate:
    80 %
    Bryn Mawr College Bryn Mawr, PA 4-year graduation rate:
    80 %
    Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year graduation rate:
    80 %
    Whitman College Walla Walla, WA 4-year graduation rate:
    80 %
    Dickinson College Carlisle, PA 4-year graduation rate:
    79 %
    Wheaton College Norton, MA 4-year graduation rate:
    79 %
    Trinity College Hartford, CT 4-year graduation rate:
    79 %
    Furman University Greenville, SC 4-year graduation rate:
    79 %
    Gustavus Adolphus College St. Peter, MN 4-year graduation rate:
    79 %
    Franklin and Marshall College Lancaster, PA 4-year graduation rate:
    79 %
    Union College Schenectady, NY 4-year graduation rate:
    79 %
    Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, NC 4-year graduation rate:
    79 %
    Illinois Wesleyan University Bloomington, IL 4-year graduation rate:
    79 %
    Susquehanna University Selinsgrove, PA 4-year graduation rate:
    79 %
    Santa Clara University Santa Clara, CA 4-year graduation rate:
    79 %
    Wheaton College Wheaton, IL 4-year graduation rate:
    78 %
    Skidmore College Saratoga Springs, NY 4-year graduation rate:
    78 %
    Bentley University Waltham, MA 4-year graduation rate:
    78 %
    Muhlenberg College Allentown, PA 4-year graduation rate:
    78 %
    Connecticut College New London, CT 4-year graduation rate:
    78 %
    Mount Holyoke College South Hadley, MA 4-year graduation rate:
    78 %
    Grove City College Grove City, PA 4-year graduation rate:
    78 %
    New York University New York, NY 4-year graduation rate:
    78 %
    Rice University Houston, TX 4-year graduation rate:
    78 %
    DePauw University Greencastle, IN 4-year graduation rate:
    78 %
    Fairfield University Fairfield, CT 4-year graduation rate:
    78 %
    Harvey Mudd College Claremont, CA 4-year graduation rate:
    77 %
    Loyola College in Maryland Baltimore, MD 4-year graduation rate:
    77 %
    Gettysburg College Gettysburg, PA 4-year graduation rate:
    77 %
    Cooper Union New York, NY 4-year graduation rate:
    76 %
    College of St. Benedict St. Joseph, MN 4-year graduation rate:
    76 %
    Occidental College Los Angeles, CA 4-year graduation rate:
    76 %
    Boston University Boston, MA 4-year graduation rate:
    76 %
    Fordham University New York, NY 4-year graduation rate:
    76 %
    Austin College Sherman, TX 4-year graduation rate:
    75 %
    St. Mary's College of Maryland St. Mary's City, MD 4-year graduation rate:
    75 %
    Siena College Loudonville, NY 4-year graduation rate:
    74 %
    United States Air Force Academy USAF Academy, CO 4-year graduation rate:
    74 %
    Denison University Granville, OH 4-year graduation rate:
    74 %
    Pepperdine University Malibu, CA 4-year graduation rate:
    74 %
    Colorado College Colorado Springs, CO 4-year graduation rate:
    74 %
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  • mephist0mephist0 694 replies40 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 734 Member
    Does one of these lists exist for freshman retention?
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  • 1980collegegrad1980collegegrad 1350 replies153 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,503 Senior Member
    Here it is from the 2008 edition. Cannot find it in 2009:

    Freshman Freshman
    Institution retention rate enrollment
    College of the Holy Cross 96% 754
    Davidson College (NC) 96% 464
    Haverford College (PA) 96% 314
    Swarthmore College (PA) 96% 370
    United States Naval Acad 96% 1,228
    Wesleyan University (CT) 96% 720
    Amherst College (MA) 97% 433
    Carleton College (MN) 97% 504
    Williams College (MA) 97% 534
    Bowdoin College (ME) 98% 474
    Pomona College (CA) 99% 378
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  • juilletjuillet 12587 replies161 discussionsSuper Moderator Posts: 12,748 Super Moderator
    You guys all took the words out of my mouth. Georgia Tech is one of the top universities in the country -- especially for engineering -- but very few people get out of there in 4 years because of the engineering courseload. I have a lot of friends who went to tech and very few of them graduated with me.
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  • hawkettehawkette 4568 replies295 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,863 Senior Member
    mephisto,
    Here is a thread that was dedicated to Freshmen Retention. Hope you find it useful.

    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-search-selection/562332-usnwr-2009-looking-top-strata-i-freshmen-retention.html
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  • keeferkeefer 605 replies11 discussions- Posts: 616 Member
    for a school like caltech to have 82% 4 year graduation rate is pretty damn impressive, for most engineering schools 6 year graduation doesn't come close to that.
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  • nocousinnocousin 790 replies51 discussions- Posts: 841 Member
    Freshmen retention can be much the same: variables include financial aid, health, location, transfers up and down, difficulty of the course work, rigidity of the core requirements if any, whether that school takes chances on at risk kids or not, etc.

    Some schools are wickedly difficult to gain admissions and not so hard once you are there (like some schools only require 3 courses a semester give lots of 'breaks' in the academic year). Other schools may be more difficult to stay for any variety of reasons. And of course at most Ivy League schools they simply dont have too many who transfer out for the obvious reason that kids recognize the power of the name and maybe its better to hang in there. Some kids are sensitive to grade deflation at some schools and flee to greener pastures and easier grading. Some reapply to dream schools and get in as sophomores.

    My point is that these stats can be used and abused, and like reading tea leaves, you can see in them whatever you want.

    One should pick a school because its the best fit for you and where you will be happiest and thrive, not necessarily if its the highest ranking school or has the best graduation rates or highest retention rates.

    And for some, finances plays a huge and exclusive role.

    Just be grateful you are admitted and going to college and then do your best to make it a special experience and make your school a better place for having admitted you.
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  • KeilexandraKeilexandra 5360 replies132 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,492 Senior Member
    ^ All of those caveats about 4-year graduation rates are true. However, knowing this, one can still gain valuable information. If the financial aid, difficulty of course work, and rigidity of core requirements lead to fewer students graduating in four years, maybe you should reconsider attending that school if finances are an issue and you NEED to graduate in four years, as is the case for many people.
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