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Author Topic: Graduation Rates Fall at 1/3 of 4-Year Colleges  (Read 1018 times)

Offline NovaSkegee

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Graduation Rates Fall at 1/3 of 4-Year Colleges
« on: December 05, 2010, 02:39:17 PM »
December 5, 2010

Graduation Rates Fall at One-Third of 4-Year Colleges

By Jeffrey Brainard and Andrea Fuller
The Chronicle of Higher Education

AKRON, OH- Jerome Thompson entered the University of Akron in 1996, fresh out of high school. He dropped out within a year, saying in retrospect that he lacked the maturity and discipline to continue his studies. "It was, Should I go to class that day, or am I gonna hang out?" he says. "OK, I'm gonna hang out."

He didn't give up on academe, however. He returned to the university in 2001 and earned a bachelor's degree in social work, although it took him eight more years.

The rate dropped by six percentage points at North Dakota State University, by seven points at Bowling Green State University, and by eight points at Wilmington University. Akron's seven-point decline was one of the largest among all public, research-intensive universities. And its graduation rate, 33 percent, was one of the lowest.

Akron and other institutions cited a variety of reasons for the lagging rates, including competing priorities and changing student demographics, and they described renewed efforts to improve.

The Rate People Hate
Besides failing to count students who take a long time to complete their degrees, the graduation rate is in other respects an incomplete measure of institutional quality. The data describe a minority of all enrolled students, counting only full-time, first-time students who enroll in the fall and complete degrees within "150 percent of normal time"—six years for students seeking bachelor's degrees. The graduation rate excludes students who transfer to other colleges and earn degrees there. It also omits students who transfer in and graduate. By one estimate, the rate ignores up to 50 percent of all enrolled students.

What's more, the graduation rate doesn't measure how much students actually learn. Nor does it show how well colleges are helping academically underprepared students to succeed.

Even so, despite its methodological shortcomings, the rate is the primary, publicly available, uniform metric that describes how well colleges are serving their students.

The picture it paints is not pretty. Aside from the institutions where rates have declined, growth has been modest at best. The median graduation rate among four-year colleges increased by approximately two percentage points, to about 53 percent, from 2003 to 2008. The rate dropped at nearly 500 four-year institutions during that period. Among colleges where graduation rates were below average in 2003, a similar pattern of slow growth and some declines also held.

Finances Influence Delay
Other colleges contacted by The Chronicle about drops in their graduation rates also pointed to more students taking longer to complete degrees.

Financial pressures are partly to blame
at Alverno College, says Sister Kathleen O'Brien, senior vice president for academic affairs at the private, master's-level women's college in Milwaukee. The graduation rate fell by eight percentage points, to 39 percent, from 2003 to 2008—at an institution that had developed a national reputation for systematically assessing the learning of its students. That was one the larger drops among private master's institutions.

Graduation rates for the period ending in 2008 predate the start of the recession. But in Milwaukee, the economy was already struggling, Sister O'Brien says. The city's poverty rate is among the highest in the country, and the percentage of students at Alverno receiving Pell Grants has risen to 63 percent.

"I think we're doing the right things, so I think it's more financial than anything," she says of the graduation-rate trend.

Officials at the University of Colorado at Denver, too, say financial pressures on students help explain a dip in the graduation rate there, from 39 percent in 2003 to 37 percent in 2008.

Increases in tuition and fees may be deterring students as well, he says. "We used to be a low-tuition-and-fees state for public higher education. Now we're in the middle of the pack. It's a big change, and state support continues to go down."

The Denver campus has made new efforts in the past five years, like starting a seminar program for all first-year students, to help undergraduates complete their degrees.

Money Isn't Everything
Some colleges have raised graduation rates with a variety of interventions. Few studies have examined how much they cost. Researchers at Cornell University found that colleges that spent more on student services, such as tutoring, tended to report increased graduation rates, especially if they enrolled many poor students with low test scores.

Many colleges with low graduation rates also tend to be less-selective institutions, with more underprepared students and less financing than at flagship public universities and elite private colleges, says Ronald G. Ehrenberg, director of Cornell University's Higher Education Research Institute. Yet states' financing formulas for those colleges don't take that into account, either.

When colleges invest the effort, they often can move their rates, says Kevin Carey, policy director at Education Sector and a Chronicle contributing writer. But if no outsiders, like accreditors or trustees, are pushing them to do so, it's easy for them not to bother trying.

At least one incentive for change has come from two foundations that put grant money behind efforts to improve graduation rates—the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Lumina Foundation for Education. More than half of the $55-million awarded by Lumina in 2009 was focused on improving the academic success of students and their institutions, estimates Jamie P. Merisotis, Lumina's president.

Another impetus, although mostly a rhetorical one, is President Obama's goal for America to have the highest proportion of college graduates by 2020. Given a college-age population projected to level off and decline, that will probably require a major increase in graduation rates.

Those new pressures are too new to have affected graduation rates yet. And several experts predict that the rates will continue to change only slowly, because improving teaching and student-support services across a campus is hard.

Jane Coaston and Alex Richards contributed to this article.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2010, 02:47:51 PM by NovaSkegee »

Offline NovaSkegee

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Re: Graduation Rates Fall at 1/3 of 4-Year Colleges
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2010, 04:44:05 PM »
Change in averaged graduation rates: the average of the rates for 2001 and 2002 compared with the average of the rates for 2007 and 2008


* Private Universities and Colleges

*Spelman College 2002: 78%  2008: 80%

*Talladega College 2002: 53%  2008: 80%

Morehouse College 2002: 56%  2008: 67%

*Howard University 2002: 58%   2008: 65%

Fisk University 2002: 62%  2008: 53%

*Hampton University 2002: 60%  2008: 51%

Albany State University 2002: 26%  2008: 50%

North Carolina Central University 2002: 49%   2008: 48%

*Tuskegee University 2002: 51%   2008: 46%

South Carolina State University 2002: 51% 2008: 45%

*Clark Atlanta University 2002: 31%   2008: 45%

*Xavier University of Louisiana 2002: 57%  2008: 44%

Jackson State University 2002: 35%  2008: 43%

Florida A&M University 2002: 43%  2008: 41%

Bowie State University 2002: 38%  2008: 41%

Virginia State University 2002: 42%   2008: 39%

Alcorn State University 2002: 47%    2008: 39%

*Dillard University 2002: 39%  2008: 39%

North Carolina A&T State University 2002: 40% 2008: 38%

Fayetteville State University 2002: 39%   2008: 38%

University of Maryland-Eastern Shore 2008: 41%  2008: 38%

Prairie View A&M University 2002: 34%  2008: 37%

Lincoln University (PA) 2002: 41%   2008: 37%

Tennessee State University 2002: 47% 2008: 36%

Delaware State University 2002: 30%  2008: 36%

Fort Valley State University 2002: 25% 2008: 35%

Savannah State University 2002: 18% 2008: 34%

Alabama A&M University 2002: 39%  2008: 33%

Morgan State University 2002: 38%  2008: 32%

Southern University and A&M College 2002: 28%  2008: 29%

Mississippi Valley State University 2002: 33%  2008: 29%

Lincoln University (MO) 2002: 35%    2008: 26%

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania 2002: 31%   2008: 22%

Alabama State University 2002: 21%  2008: 21%

Coppin State University 2002: 28%  2008: 16%

Texas Southern University 2002: 15%    2008: 13%

_________________________________________________

*Harvard University 2002: 98%  2008: 98%

*Yale University 2002: 95%  2008: 97%

*Princeton University 2002: 97%  2008: 96%

*University of Pennsylvania 2002: 92%  2008: 95%

*Duke University 2002: 93%   2008: 95%

*Stanford University 2002: 93% 2008: 94%

*Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2002: 91%  2008: 94%

*Georgetown University 2002: 94%   2008: 93%

Rice University 2002: 92%  2008: 93%

University of Virginia 2002: 92%  2008:  93%

*Cornell University 2002: 88%  2008: 93%

*Columbia University 2002: 92%  2008: 93%

*University of Chicago 2002: 89%   2008: 92%

University of California, Berkeley 2002: 84%  2008: 90%

University of California, Los Angeles 2002: 85%  2008: 89%

*Vanderbilt University 2002: 84%   2008: 89%

*Wake Forest University 2002: 87% 2008: 88%

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 2002: 84%  2008: 88%

*University of Southern California 2002: 76%   2008: 88%

*Emory University 2002: 88%  2008: 87%

*Carnegie Mellon University 2002: 82%  2008: 87%

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 2002: 80%  2008: 86%

Pennsylvania State University, University Park 2002: 80%  2008: 85%

*Furman University 2002: 82%   2008: 85%

University of Florida 2002: 77%   2008: 82%

James Madison University 2002: 78%   2008: 82%

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 2002: 80%   2008: 82%

*Syracuse University 2002: 77%   2008: 80%

Clemson University 2002: 72%  2008: 79%

University of Texas, Austin 2002: 71%   2008: 78%

University of Georgia 2002: 70%  2008: 78%

Texas A&M University, College Station 2002: 75% 2008: 78%

Virginia Tech 2002: 74% 2008: 78%

*University of Miami 2002: 65%   2008: 77%

Georgia Institute of Technology 2002: 68%  2008: 77%

University of Pittsburgh, main campus 2002: 63%  2008: 76%  

Rutgers University (State University of New Jersey), New Brunswick 2002: 72%   2008: 75%

Michigan State University 2002: 69%  2008: 75%

Ohio State University 2002: 59%   2008: 73%

North Carolina State University 2002: 64% 2008: 72%

Florida State University 2002: 63%  2008: 70%

University of South Carolina, Columbia 2002:  60%   2008: 67%

University of North Carolina, Wilmington 2002: 62% 2008: 67%

University of Colorado, Boulder 2002: 67%  2008: 67%

Temple University 2002: 47%   2008: 65%

University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa 2002: 63% 2008: 64%

Auburn University 2002: 68%  2008: 64%

Appalachian State University 2002: 60%  2008: 64%

University of Central Florida 2002: 50%   2008: 63%

*Drexel University 2002: 57%  2008: 62%

George Mason University 2002: 49% 2008: 61%

Mississippi State University 2002: 56% 2008: 60%

University of Tennessee, Knoxville 2002: 58%   2008: 60%

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville 2002: 46%  2008: 58%

Winthrop University 2002: 55% 2008: 58%

University of Kentucky 2002: 58%   2008: 58%

Central Michigan University 2002: 47%  2008: 57%

Arizona State University 2002: 52%   2008: 56%

Grand Valley State University 2002: 48% 2008: 56%

University of Mississippi 2002: 57%   2008: 56%

University of Cincinnati 2002: 49%  2008: 55%

East Carolina University 2002: 54% 2008: 54%

University of North Carolina, Greensboro 2002: 48%  2008: 53%  

University of Michigan, Dearborn 2002: 46%   2008: 53%

*Wingate University 2002: 44%  2008: 53%

University of North Carolina, Charlotte 2002: 46% 2008: 51%

Florida International University 2002: 44%   2008: 49%

Kent State University, main campus 2002: 46%  2008: 49%

Louisiana Tech University  2002: 55%  2008: 48%

University of South Florida 2002: 46%  2008: 48%

University of Alabama, Huntsville 2002: 37% 2008: 48%

Georgia Southern University 2002: 36%  2008: 45%

Southern Illinois University, Carbondale 2002: 39%   2008: 45%

Middle Tennessee State University 2002: 39%  2008: 45%

Georgia State University 2002: 35%   2008: 44%

Troy University  2002: 57%  2008: 44%

Wright State University, Dayton 2002: 37%  2008: 43%

University of Southern Mississippi 2008: 51%   2008: 43%

University of Nevada, Las Vegas 2002: 37%   2008: 41%

University of North Alabama 2002: 37%  2008: 41%

University of Alabama, Birmingham  2002: 38%   2008: 40%

Valdosta State University 2002: 30% 2008: 40%

Unversity of Memphis 2002:  34% 2008: 38%

Kennesaw State University 2002: 27% 2008: 35%

Wayne State University 2002: 34% 2008: 34%

University of Akron, main campus 2002: 36%   2008: 33%

University of South Alabama 2002: 34%   2008: 33%

University of North Carolina, Pembroke 2002: 34%   2008:  33%

Auburn University, Montgomery 2002: 26%  2008: 24%

Chicago State University 2002: 18%  2008: 13%
« Last Edit: December 05, 2010, 05:06:04 PM by NovaSkegee »

Offline NovaSkegee

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Re: Graduation Rates Fall at 1/3 of 4-Year Colleges
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2010, 05:08:04 PM »
It looks like only the flagship campuses of the public colleges have over 50%.

So, there has to be reasons why the non-flagship campuses have such low graduation rates and that most likely is tied to economics.

Offline NovaSkegee

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Re: Graduation Rates Fall at 1/3 of 4-Year Colleges
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2010, 11:39:18 AM »
I hope some HBCUs see that the problem most likely is economics more than SAT scores.

It's very clear that non-flagship predominantly white universities have the same issues and more than likely it's due to their student populations being more likely to have to work and coming from lower income families than at the flagship campuses.

 

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