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Why do people assume that a college's graduation rates ...

ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77683 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
Why do people assume that a college's graduation rates are their student's personal chance of graduating in 4 or 6 years, rather than a reflection of the students that the college enrolls, both in academic matters and how well they can afford the cost to attend?

For example, Arizona State has 4 and 6 year graduation rates of 45% and 63%. But would an incoming student with a 4.0 unweighted HS GPA in hard courses, 34 ACT, and parents who can and will easily pay the remaining net price after scholarships have much risk of failing to graduate in 4 years? Presumably, the students who barely made the automatic admission criteria (one of top 25% rank, 3.0 HS GPA, 22 ACT, 1120 SAT) are at higher risk. Similar for University of Mississippi, with 4 and 6 year graduation rates of 39% and 60% that may reflect those who barely made the automatic admission criteria (basically NCAA minimum for in-state applicants, including non-athletes).
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Replies to: Why do people assume that a college's graduation rates ...

  • chardonMNchardonMN 43 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Unless it is an impacted major or overcrowded school, where you might not get the classes you need when you need them. Our state flagship suffers somewhat from this and I am not sure whether being a stronger student makes it easier for you to get your needed courses on time (doubtful). Otherwise, I would agree with OP.
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  • LilacSoulLilacSoul 191 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    That’s one possible explanation, or as hatchette before said, maybe there isn’t a good support system/culture there.
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  • Data10Data10 2904 replies8 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited June 2
    For example, Arizona State has 4 and 6 year graduation rates of 45% and 63%. But would an incoming student with a 4.0 unweighted HS GPA in hard courses, 34 ACT, and parents who can and will easily pay the remaining net price after scholarships have much risk of failing to graduate in 4 years?
    I also find it odd when posters assume their chances of graduating will be similar to the average rate for the college they attend, and I'd agree that students who are highly academically qualified without non-academic issues (financial, family, medical/psych...) have little chance of failing to graduate. However, there is still often a good risk of taking longer than 4 years to graduate. Even the most highly selective academic colleges rarely reach a 90% 4 year graduation rate. Some do not even reach 80%. There are many reasons why highly academically qualified students may take more than 4 years such as co-ops/work, more complex degree plans, switching majors late, and non-academic related events.
    edited June 2
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  • Sue22Sue22 6144 replies112 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited June 2
    At my kids' NESCAC kids receiving Pell grants graduate from the school at a rate higher than kids who receive neither a Pell nor a Stafford loan (93% vs. 88.0 for the 2012 cohort, 92.2% vs. 92.% for the 2011 and 93.8% vs. 85.4 for 2010).* That leads me to believe that financial aid is a factor at some schools but in reverse of how I think the OP was seeing it. My theory is that at a full needs met school with good FA support kids who need substantial FA are less likely to transfer out than full pay kids. Alternatively it could be that candidates who need a lot of FA have to have a stronger academic profile to be admitted, and that that's reflected in the graduation rates.

    It's always useful to ask why a school's graduation rate is what it is. Some schools are feeder schools to more prestigious schools while others see virtually no one transfer out. Some have great FA, others FA policies that force a lot of kids to drop out or transfer. Some schools make it hard to get the courses one needs to fulfill the requirements while others bend over backwards to scoot kids out the doors. Special programs, AP credit policies, and required co-ops can also affect the graduation rates.

    *ETA: the trend at the state flagship for the same state is the opposite. Kids with Pell grants graduate at a rate almost 20 percentage points lower than those without Pells or Stafford. The school covers 2/3 of need while the NESCAC covers 100%.
    edited June 2
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  • itsgettingreal17itsgettingreal17 3934 replies26 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    My D applied to honors programs at many schools with lower graduation rates. I had no issue at all with the graduation rate as I knew that she’d have no issue graduating. I wasn’t even worried about her getting classes she needed, as my D knows how to work the system to get into classes.
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  • Sue22Sue22 6144 replies112 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I'd love for the CDS to add a line asking how many of the kids who did not graduate transferred out. It wouldn't totally clear up the question of how many kids were failing at the school, in that kids can sometimes transfer to less rigorous schools even in the midst of falling apart academically, but it would be a useful data point, as it might help to separate out the number of kids who are truly dropping out of the college.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77683 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Sue22 wrote:
    I'd love for the CDS to add a line asking how many of the kids who did not graduate transferred out. It wouldn't totally clear up the question of how many kids were failing at the school, in that kids can sometimes transfer to less rigorous schools even in the midst of falling apart academically, but it would be a useful data point, as it might help to separate out the number of kids who are truly dropping out of the college.

    However, many students drop out for financial reasons, so information about dropping out completely versus transferring may just be the distinction between dropping out completely because they completely ran out of money and cannot afford any college, versus transferring to a less expensive college.
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  • scubadivescubadive 1091 replies3 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Coops and internships cause delays. You have far more part time students and untraditional students working while going to school. Then you have change of majors and the availability of classes.
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  • mackinawmackinaw 2991 replies53 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited June 2
    I don't think this statistic -- how many transferred out -- is easy to keep track of. A kid doesn't show up for 3rd year? The college may send transcripts to other colleges, but I doubt they would necessarily know whether the student transferred -- much less whether the student completed her degree, and where.
    edited June 2
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  • gwnorthgwnorth 364 replies7 threadsRegistered User Member
    An alternative data point (if it's available) would be first year retention rate. Presumably students who don't make it from year 1 to 2 generally don't do so for financial reasons. This might give a better indication of how supportive the school is in helping their students academically. On the other hand it might take students a couple of years to fail out if they are given the benefit of the doubt by being placed on academic probation first.
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  • mackinawmackinaw 2991 replies53 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited June 2
    I know that a college where I used to teach did keep track of "persistence" (students staying enrolled from year to year). They conducted studies of the factors involved, including finances, health, academic performance, and other issues. And they instructed academic advisors that one of their responsibilities was to help students to make "normal progress" in their programs.

    Here is a link to a recent study of "Persistence and Retention" conducted by the National Student Clearinghouse [NSC] Research Center: https://nscresearchcenter.org/snapshotreport33-first-year-persistence-and-retention/
    edited June 2
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