When helping students find the best college for their needs, I always consider a college’s four year graduation rate.Why? Because the less time it takes a student to get out of college, the less the costs involved and the sooner the student is able to start working or start graduate school.
While the advantages of finishing college in four years seems obvious, most people never consider a college’s four year graduate rate when choosing a college. Most people just assume that a four year college means … well, that you finish in four years. But the reality is that the time it takes to graduate from many colleges often far exceeds four years. As an example, in Minnesota, where I am located, the four year graduate rate ranges from 91% to 18%.
There are all sorts of reasons why some students don’t graduate in four years and many are legitimate reasons. But if only 16% of students graduate in four years, something is wrong. When investigating colleges, students need to be aware of the four year graduate rates at the colleges in which they have an interest. If the graduation rate seems too low, ask questions of the college. If the graduation rate is poor because they are admitting students that are not prepared to handle college level work, will you be challenged in the classroom? If the college claims the problem is that students can’t afford to pay for the cost of college, then your financial aid package is unlikely to be generous. Maybe you should consider other colleges that are more generous with their financial aid.
There are several ways to determine the four year graduation rate at a college but one of the easiest is to use the College Navigator website from the US Department of Education. Spend a few minutes investigating colleges and you may end up saving thousands of dollars by actually graduating in four years.