The American Enteprise Institute has released a new report entitled “Diplomas and Dropouts-Which Colleges Actually Graduate Their Students (and Which Don’t)“.
The report analyzes the six year graduation rate at over 1,300 colleges and universities in the United States including virtually all of the best known colleges. The range of graduation rates is dramatic particularly at the less selective colleges.
One of the great things about this report is that the authors break down the graduation rates based on the selectivity of the various colleges. So readers who are looking at selective colleges are not trying to compare college graduate rates with colleges that are considered the most selective. The authors used Barron’s Profile of American Colleges to determine which selectivity catagory a college should be placed into.
The report also includes top 10 and bottom 10 lists for graduate rates for colleges in each of the catagories. The report further breaks colleges down by geographical area and by state so that if you have an interest in attending college near where you live you can look only at those colleges.
The authors of the report use graduation data from the US Department of Education which some argue has some inaccuracies. Even if true, most of the data is correct and it allows the reader to get an overall picture of graduation rates across various types of colleges throughout the country.
The one qualifier I would use in viewing this report is that it reports the six year graduation rate at four year colleges and universities. This is the standard method of reporting graduation rates but I would also suggest that if you find a college in which you have an interest, check with the college to find out what their four year graduation rate is. Many colleges have dramatically different four year and six year graduation rates and ideally, you want to complete your education in four rather than six years.
Dawn McLaughlin says
I am truly confused about how to accurately assess college selectivity. “Percent admitted” (such as what is reported on collegeboard.com) seems fairly meaningless since it is effected by the size of the school and number of applicants. Additionally, when comparing colleges that report similar g.p.a. & SAT criteria and breakdown for admitted students, “percent admitted” often widely varies. Is there a reliable guide that accurately judges colleges’ admission selectivity?
Todd Johnson says
I am not clear on what your issue is with college selectivity. Let me try to address what I think you are asking.
First, college selectivity is not the same as college quality. As you point out, a college may have many applicants for very few places but that does not necessarily mean that it has better students than a college with fewer applicants. Students apply to colleges for various reasons, not all of which involves academics. For instance, if a college wins a major football bowl game, their applications will in most cases increase the following year.
Second, students should be looking for a college that is the best fit for their needs regardless of the selectivity of the college. For this purpose I mean selectivity in terms of how many students apply.
While it is true that the size of the school and number of applicants varies it is the relative percent of students that are accepted that people generally consider when they talk about selectivity. While UCLA gets more applications than Harvard, Harvard has far fewer spots available so their acceptance is far lower. That doesn’t make Harvard a better school, but it is more difficult to get into.
Usually, if a college gets more applications they will move the bar up for the grades and test scores that they want from an applicant. There are times that this is not the case but they tend to be specialty college. For example, Julliard generally has a lower acceptance rate than Harvard. The academics are not as high as Harvard but Julliard is looking for things outside the classroom that Harvard does not.
I am not aware of any source that compares both the selectivity from the standpoint of percent accepted as well as the academic strengths required.
I hope that answers some of your questions.
I am from India, and my sat score is 2010. I am not getting this 6 years graduation rate thing? Here we get the degree in 3/4 years. But somehow this 6 years thing is making me go bonkers… Would appreciate if you can guide
Todd Johnson says
Many US students also don’t get this so I am not surprised over your confusion. US colleges are meant to be finished in 4 years. However, many colleges, for various reasons, are not that concerned on whether a student finishes in 4 years or not. As a result, it takes most students 5 or 6 or sometimes more years to complete a 4 year college degree. Generally, the stronger academically the US college the better the 4 year graduation rate.
Because most colleges do not do well graduating students in 4 years the US government, who tracks this type of information, has established the 6 year graduation rate to make the colleges look better because most do a much better job graduating students in 6 years rather than 4. That is why most colleges advertise their 6 year graduation rate even though it is for a 4 year degree. Here is a link to a post I did on this topic some time ago. http://cap1.wpengine.com/college-admissions-counseling/how-long-to-graduate-college/
I hope that resolves your confusion.
I got lot of clarity but I have seen that most of the university have a very high 6 year Graduation rate – as high as 80 – 90 %, does thus means that this much student take 6 years to graduate , not sure if this is considered good or bad ?
Thanks for help
Todd Johnson says
An 80% graduation rate is good after 6 years from the standpoint that the students actually graduated. It is not very good if it took most students that long to graduate. I would suggest that you take a look at the College Navigator website. Here is there link: http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
For each college in which you have an interest you can look up on that site various information including the 4 and 6 year graduation rate. Obviously the ideal is to focus on those colleges that have a high 4 year graduation rate.