I remember taking a particularly hard course in college, which started rather ominously. The professor stood up in front of his new class, looking up into the stands of students and said “Ladies and gentleman, I want you to look at the student on your left. Now look to the student on your right. Now understand that only one of the three of you will graduate from this program.”
Whether the professor could see the future, or whether he just knew about his own college’s graduation rates, I’m not sure, but the fact is that he turned out to be almost right. Less than half of the people with whom I started my college career went on to finish at the same time I did.
Although colleges are required to publish their graduation rates, generally it’s not a number that most students and parents consider when looking at which colleges to apply to, but they probably should. High percentages in the 6-Year Grad Rate of a school may indicate a few things including:
– that the college is particularly stringent about admissions to make sure they only find students who are genuinely likely to succeed,
– that the college has good support systems which ensure that students have all the resources they need to succeed in their programs, including good study areas, access to peer mentors, and a strong sense of community.
– that the college offers a good range of courses designed to allow students to select the best fit studies for their interests.
– that the college offers good financial aid past the second year, to allow under-privileged students the opportunity to carry on studying when they may have dropped out because of finances at other schools.
Lower 6-Year Grad Rates don’t necessarily mean that the college is a poor choice, of course, particularly if your student is well disciplined, strongly interested in their chosen major, and has thoroughly researched which courses he or she is going to take over the full 4 years of his or her program.
College graduation rates can be found directly through the admissions office of most colleges.