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.