Completion is an ‘ecosystem’ issue

Improving college graduation rates requires understanding the higher education “ecoosystem,” says the president of an award-winning community college. Students “swirl” between colleges and majors, dropping in and out and back in again.

Research “student pathways,” recommends a policy brief in The Changing Ecology of Higher Education series. The metaphor is gaining popularity.

Is Obama a college graduate?

The U.S. has dropped from first to 11th in college completion, according to the OECD. But transfers don’t count as college graduates in U.S. statistics, reports Mike Kirst on The College Puzzle. President Obama, who earned a Columbia degree, wouldn’t be considered a college graduate in the OECD tables because he started at Occidental College and transferred. International comparisons aren’t valid or useful unless data is reported consistently.

Increasingly, U.S. students “swirl” through several colleges before completing a degree. Or not. Kirst writes:

We have major problems with completion, but so do other countries. Our completion rate for associates and  two-year technical degrees is the major cause of low international rankings.

For the record, I believe Barack Obama is a college graduate. And a Christian. Born in Hawaii.