Best colleges — and dropout factories

In addition to listing top national universities, liberal arts colleges and the like, Washington Monthly’s College Guide identifies College Dropout Factories, the public and nonprofit colleges with rock-bottom graduation rates. Southern University of New Orleans is the worst, with 5 percent graduation rate.

Chicago State graduates 13 percent of its students, while North Carolina Central University, with similar demographics, graduates 50 percent.

Students entering NCCU are told from the start that they are expected to have a goal of graduating in four years. The University College keeps students together in groups and assigns them advisers who must approve all major academic decisions and meet with students frequently. NCCU students even sign a contract upon arriving, a document that lays out the goals of what they are going to accomplish. If they start to struggle, they sign an additional contract that commits them to even closer monitoring. Above all, what drives places like NCCU is a culture of experimentation and data collection. The administrators track students, and they track results. If something works, they keep doing it. If it doesn’t, they try something else.

Produced in collaboration with Education Sector, the guide also lists America’s best community colleges, which include top-rated St. Paul College, a hands-on, brains-on school. Read more at Community College Spotlight.

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  1. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Do the ‘drop out’ factory ratings include transfer students?

    I’m curious, because I live near Purdue North Central (listed at 13%). In my experience, a lot of local kids spend the first year or two of school there, living at home and getting general education credits on the cheap. Then they transfer to ‘Big Purdue’ in Lafayette.

    Also, I noticed Calumet College of St. Joseph on the list. I would expect them to have an ABYSSAMAL 4 year completion rate–because many of their students are adults with jobs and families. Returning students just TAKE LONGER to get degrees.

    Anyway, I was wondering if you had a link to the rubric they used– because some of these ‘drop out factories’ may actual be transfer/night school factories instead….