College Results

Education Trust’s College Results site lets users compare graduation rates at colleges and universities serving similar students. Results can be broken down by race, ethnicity and gender, revealing large gaps at some institutions.

Every year, about a million first-time, full-time freshmen head into four-year colleges seeking degrees. Fewer than four in 10 will meet that goal within four years, and barely six in 10 will make it in six years.

. . . Even, when they attend the same schools, students of different racial and ethnic backgrounds face very different graduation prospects. At one in four American colleges, the Black-White graduation gap is staggeringly large: 20 percentage points or higher.

But some colleges and universities have raised graduation rates while narrowing the racial-ethnic gaps.

Education Trust also released two reports: One Step from the Finish Line: Higher College-Graduation Rates are Within Our Reach and Choosing to Improve: Voices from Colleges and Universities with Better Graduation Rates. Both explain strategies that improve students’ chances of earning a degree.

Among the schools that do a good job is Florida State, which virtually has eliminated the graduation gap between black and white students. It can be done, says Education Trust.

About Joanne


  1. edgeworthy says:

    Why do we obsess about graduation rates? Sometimes it matters because it indicates that we’re accepting too many underqualified students. But sometimes it just means the school has lowered their standards. Measuring graduation rates and rating schools by how many (percent) graduate has seriously fouled up the top schools which are already too easy ONCE the kids get in.

  2. Ross the Heartless Conservative says:

    “Why do we obsess about graduation rates?”

    Because it is the mission of colleges and universities to educate the students and graduation rates is one measure of effectiveness. Obviously the graduation rate will vary among different schools. I personally think that a low graduation rate at a selective public school are a sign that something is wrong. The problem might be in admissions or it might be elsewhere but the school is not accomplishing its mission.

    For some schools low graduation rates would be expected. These would include commuter schools, schools with open admissions, and other types of schools as well.

    I think of graduation rates as being like profit margins. Some industries have large profit margins and other industries have small profit margins. You can draw useful inferences by comparing businesses within the same industry but it is useless to compare across industries.

    I share your concern though. Politicians, who are not generally known for their mental abilities, are likely to use the “one size fits all” approach. Just as they have decried Microsoft and the pharmaceutical industry as having obscene profits. It is not the schools at the top I am as worried about though, it is the schools with open admissions or the ones that largely serve more disadvantaged students. If they cannot restrict the quality of the product coming in, and they are under pressure to graduate a certain percentage of students, then it might not be possible to do so without lower standards.

  3. Education Trust makes it possible to compare schools that enroll similar students, sorting by SAT scores, race and ethnicity, Pell Grant eligibility, per-student funding and other factors.

  4. I suspect adding a category on athletic scholarships would prove illuminating — especially with regard to varying rates at different schools.

  5. Not every student that doesn’t graduate is a failure. Often the best thing a college can do for a student is to help them realize that they should be somewhere else.

    The proper way to choose a college is to first decide what you’re going to be doing after college. Then decide on the course of study that would best support that, and then pick the college that gives the best such course of study, given the ability and knowledge you’ll bring to it.

    Instead, we ask 17 year olds with little or no work experience, and less life experience, to pick a college first.

  6. If about four in ten graduate in four years, and about six in ten graduate in six years, this implies that if we give everyone a decade, they’ll all graduate.

    Why are you all looking at me like that?

  7. Mike in Texas says:

    Why are you all looking at me like that?

    Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean everyone’s not out to get you 😉