Graduation rates?

<p>DD has narrowed her application list down to six, but in reality, there are four schools she feels strongly about (each for different reasons): Bates, Earlham, Kalamazoo, and Wooster. Of those four, for graduation rates, Bates is considerably higher than the others, while Earlham is considerably lower.</p>

<p>Since it's important that DD actually get a degree out of her experience, combined with the pain of having friends/classmates not return, what factors do you feel are causing Earlham to lag these other schools? The two thoughts that first occur to me are admitting more underqualified students and not providing enough financial aid (both possible components of admitting more low income students).</p>

<p>I would be happy with her choosing any of those four, but I am concerned about Earlham's relatively low grad rate. Any insight into causes would be appreciated.</p>

<p>I expect one of the causes to be that Earlham admissions takes more chances. If you look at the numbers, it is not as competitive to get into as some of the others you list. The school tends to take a student with potential and expect that individual to reach that potential. Some students may be expecting a summer camp, or to be able to slide through and find that it doesn't quite work that way. I might encourage you to ask Admissions that question, or for an even better answer have your daughter visit and have her ask professors that question. You might also compare how prepared the average athlete at Bates was for college vs Earlham. </p>

<p>I know of many students who have graduated and some who have not. In general I would not blame the school for those who have not. I am sure there are some exceptions. I would be most concerned that your daughter is looking for and respects the kind of community the school has. If it is a good fit and she is willing to work, she will succeed. You are right that you have a pretty solid list to choose from. An overnight stay might be the deciding factor.</p>

<p>I'm not sure if I understand how they calculate graduation rates, but I wonder if quite a few students come to Earlham and then just can't handle the lack of excitement... Richmond, Indiana would seem rather dull to students who are looking forward to a crazy college experience, or hoping to attend concerts and bars in the big city.</p>

<p>My son doesn't care about those kinds of things -- a quiet college life would be just fine for him...</p>

<p>Why students don't return...multiple reasons, and probably some we don't even realize. Perhaps some can't handle the freedom that one finds in college....some may be over-whelmed by the work...and some are under=whelmed.</p>

<p>The Earlham emphasis on sports may dissuade some.</p>

<p>nygiant, there's an emphasis on sports at Earlham?</p>

<p>I'd guess that it's because this kind of educational environment just isn't for every student. I'm not sure I would have been at all happy there as an undergrad, because I craved the hustle bustle of a large university. I also wanted the anonymity of huge lecture classes, and anonymity is impossible at Earlham.</p>

<p>nygiant might mean the DE-emphasis on sports.</p>

<p>The de-emphasis of sports might make some to leave after one year.</p>

<p>Thanks to all who have replied. I'm certain that there are a multitude of reasons for students not to graduate, but in aggregate, those reasons would tend to level out across colleges.</p>

<p>DD is well aware of what Earlham is and what it isn't, so the de-emphasis on sports is not an issue for her. Richmond itself isn't a draw, but I would say the same for Wooster, Grinnell, and Lewiston (Bates). Certainly, some students think that they'll be OK with a smaller town, but find out after the fact that they do want more. The (insert college name here) Bubble is common enough that I tend to discount those reasons as a major factor in graduation rate differences.</p>

<p>Where I do see a direct (or inverse) correlation, in general, are in test scores of incoming students and the percentage utilizing Pell grants. Both measures can be proxies for income levels and possibly levels of preparedness. I would expect Bates to have higher graduation rates based on test scores, selectivity, and number of full-pay students. Kalamazoo and Wooster, though, seem to have comparable test scores, but admit fewer Pell students. This leads me to believe that Earlham gets more students in the door who subsequently find that even with significant financial aid, they are unable to afford to attend long enough to graduate.</p>

<p>Does this explanation make sense? If so, since much of Earlham's attraction is its moral compass, is it the school's obligation to fully inform applicants of potential adverse outcomes? Or is their role to provide an educational environment and let their consumers decide (possibly based on perceptions using incomplete information which the college could enhance) whether they can afford the cost? Based on national levels of student loan debt and unemployment/underemployment, it appears that many students/families have made choices they now regret.</p>

<p>I'm less concerned about DD's ability to graduate, but as mentioned in my first post, I'd rather she keep her classmates in school with her rather than have them transfer or drop out. More to the point, I wonder if it's realistic to essentially hold Earlham to a higher standard of disclosure for lower income students if it also means some portion, who would ultimately navigate the process successfully, would go elsewhere and miss out on an Earlham education.</p>

<p>Thanks again for your thoughtful responses.</p>

<p>My understanding is that Earlham has been pretty good in regard to offering and maintaining FA and not leaving students with insurmountable debt. As with most schools it follows the FAFSA with regard to need. I really think in the end the factors that you mention above may be the key: Driven, competitive students coming from a prep school and families where both parents have advanced degrees etc are more likely to finish their degree. Earlham has plenty of those students, but the average student may be more cooperative than competitive and on average may be less prepared or driven. </p>

<p>It is a valid concern, along with things like diversity: if everyone is from same area, same social class, they may be more likely to be lifelong friends. Earlham for example has a large percentage of foreign students, who may go back to their home country after graduation. This can be a benefit for a drawback depending on your daughter's perspective. </p>

<p>Diversity is seen by many in academia as a big benefit, but my daughter's classmates who are first in the family to go to college or who "don't really like to read" may not be as likely to graduate. There are plenty who I have no doubt will graduate but with a small class size, it only takes a few to affect the percentages.</p>