What's with Earlham's low four year graduation rate?

Our S is very interested in Earlham, He is making a final decision between EC, Denison (generous merit) and Kenyon (no merit). He says he feels a better fit at EC than elsewhere; we are very concerned about EC’s four year graduation rate, which is 65 percent. Any parents or current EC students able to comment on this?

I’m honestly puzzled by that. My oldest son graduated from Earlham three years ago, and had a great experience. Most of his friends who I know seem to have graduated also, many are in graduate school now. I can think of one friend who did not graduate, choosing to pursue music. Sorry, I can’t explain the low rate.

@Colchis There is a 72% 6 year graduation rate. While that seems low, most schools don’t have as high of graduation rates as you would imagine.

A lot of students are also from other countries and don’t always finish school at Earlham.

There is also a 3:2 with Case Western for engineering and those don’t count for graduation.

I was concerned about the low graduation rate also but decided to look past it. In my mind, some of the attrition is due to the school not being a good fit for some students, who maybe didn’t come for the special qualities of Earlham, but rather because they got a good FA award or didn’t get accepted anywhere else affordable.

I can see students not being able to deal with the fairly rural location, small student body (smaller than many high schools), Quakerisms such as consensus, etc. Earlham tries hard to attract a diverse student body and I think sometimes it turns out to not be a good fit.

This is conjecture on my part! However I did research it, because in general I steered my D away from any schools with lower retention and graduation rates. I found references indicating that Earlham is aware of the problem and working to solve it (can’t find that on the web just now). Earlham just seems like the right place for D and maybe for your son too.

D was also accepted at Denison with an equivalent FA package, but there was no contest in D’s mind, although if she hadn’t been accepted by Earlham she acknowledged she’d be quite content to go to Denison. She was waitlisted at Kenyon but more doubtful of wanting to go there anyway. To be frank, she has not visited any of the three, but she became an astute appraiser of college materials and Earlham moved steadily up in her sights, in the end competing closely with her first choice, where she ended up getting denied.

Re: International Students
If you look on College Scorecard, you’ll see that international students actually have almost the highest graduation rate, so it’s not them bringing the average down.

@alooknac I was just thinking about the instances I know. After visiting I know for a fact that there is a good group of international students who are transferring out after this year due to personal reasons. Maybe it is just the crowd I got to meet.

I also know that there are a lot of people that get bored after a year or two. With an 88% retention rate after the first year that means about 30 kids just didn’t like it. Out of the class, another 40 or so will transfer, do a 3:2 engineering program, or just leave and drop out.

S confirmed his acceptance to Earlham yesterday evening. He is convinced it offers the best fit among the colleges he applied to (he was accepted by all of them). I spoke to the admissions director who confirmed international students have higher four-year graduation rates. She also said EC has more “super seniors” than some of its peers - students who graduate in December, a semester beyond their four-year mark - because their study abroad participation (very high at EC) affects their ability to complete requirements within the four years. Quoted five-year graduation rate in the low 70s and six year graduation rate in low 80s. @looknac, are you from outside the midwest?

DS situation so similar to @alooknac. We were pretty blown away by everything about Earlham, including the very personal touches throughout. Congrats @Colchis … Nice choice!!

@Colchis We are in the Rocky Mountains. D is graduating from an East Coast boarding school (small less traditional one).

NOW I’m a little nervous about Earlham’s graduation rate particularly since we are dependent on FA. D hopes to do a full year abroad - plans can change of course, but I hope she would still be able to graduate in 4 years. A lot depends on major I’m sure. Just something I hadn’t given a lot of thought to, never crossed my mind to call Earlham and discuss it with somebody. I was generally aware that careful planning may be necessary to graduate in 4 years if spending a year abroad.

D has done well with her scheduling at BS. Her goal was to never have an open block (students can meet graduation requirements while carrying less than maximum class load) and she reached that goal except for a couple of terms where she just couldn’t work one more class into her schedule. So hopefully she can juggle classes and requirements at Earlham too and graduate in 4 years.

There’s also a May term that could be used to gain extra credits. Besides courses, my Earlham daughter just applied for credits for a summer internship.

My son was a transfer student to Earlham, spent one semester studying abroad, and still was able to graduate after four years (3 at Earlham). I think it probably depends on the major, but he had no problem. Congrats on the decision! Great school!

I have two children at Earlham, both will graduate in four years with both a major and minor and having done foreign study. One daughter is making sure her requirements are NOT all met in her first semester senior year because she wants to attend both semesters. It is my understanding that Earlham’s retention rate is in line with their demographics. Their incoming students who are children of professors/professionals, and children of middle and upper class parents have very good graduation rates. Students who are first in their family to go to college or have families who are struggling financially have a lower graduation rate. I think the school thought at one point that their quality of education was so good that it could overcome the demographic predictions, but found the demographics had a bigger effect than they thought. There are also a percentage who think they are going to summer camp. It isn’t summer camp. This is all to say your child’s ability to graduate will have much less to do with which school they attend and more to do with family support. Without any extraordinary abilities, a student can graduate in 4 years while taking advantage of the full range of what the school offers.