Why do many students leave Arizona State University-Tempe and University of Arizona?

Our D22 is seriously considering schools in Arizona. She loves the Honors Colleges offered at both. In looking at stats for degree completion, I started to get concerned:

ASU: 51% graduate in 4 years; 63% in 8 years. (27% transfer and 9% withdraw)
UofA: 49% graduate in 4 years; 64% in 8 years. (28% transfer and 8% withdraw)

Comparing, for example with the flagships in Florida:

UF: 67% in 4 years; 88% in 8 years. (10% transfer, 1% withdraw)
FSU: 72% in 4 years; 81% in 8 years. (16% transfer; 3% withdraw)

(sources: 4 year data: US News; 8 year data: collegescorecard.ed.gov)


  1. Does anyone know what drives the high ‘transfer rates’ out of Arizona Universities?

  2. Does anyone have data on how much more stable the graduation rates are for Honors College students at these schools?

Thank you in advance. We’d love to see her happy and thriving at either of these schools, but just need some help getting past the concerns raised by this data.

Probably ran out of beer money!

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Both universities are not that selective at the low end of student stats. For example, ASU is automatic admission for any of top 25% rank, 3.00 HS GPA, ACT 22 (24 non-resident), or SAT 1120 (1180 non-resident), although some majors have higher requirements. Admission requirements | Admission | ASU

In general, graduation rates tend to track admission selectivity, with some influence from affordability issues (more influence from affordability issues for less selective colleges that low SES students are more likely to attend). But an honors student who is not in danger of running out of money should have a chance of graduating significantly higher than the overall average.


The actual graduation rate for students who entered the ASU/Barrett program six years earlier, whether or not the students remained in honors is 90.0%.

See College Board National Recognition Program (includes former National Hispanic Recognition Program) Class of 2022 - Specialty College Admissions Topics / Hispanic Students - College Confidential Forums


And according to the same source, the actual Grad Rate at University of Arizona Honors (actual grad rate for students who entered the program six years earlier, whether or not the students remained in honors) is 84.4%.

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This is super helpful info! Thank you.

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Thank you for that helpful context.

I know someone who transferred back to in state because they partied too much while there freshman year. not in honors or anything.

The school I work at (private school, Southern California) sends kids to ASU and U of A every year and from what I hear, they all graduate in four years. I don’t know if they were in the honors program, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were. Our school is a college prep school, where every graduate goes to college and they’re generally well prepared for college level work. As far as staying at both schools all four years. I haven’t heard of anyone who has transferred…


Money. Florida schools are relatively cheap and the students can afford them. Other schools, even state schools, have a lot of students who need to take a semester or two off and work to save up, or just transfer to a cheaper school.

ASU is also HUGE and has a lot more students who aren’t putting school first. It is pretty hard to get into UF.

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You need to also consider, both of these schools are somewhat urban and many students work as they attend, and just take longer to graduate. Kind of like the reason behind poor graduation rates at community colleges. The drop doesn’t mean they all transferred out.