As I work with students on finalizing college lists, I teach them to look for factors that will help them identify the ones who are truly great fits.
One of those factors is graduation rates.
If a school’s graduation rates are low, let’s say less than 50%, that means that every other student isn’t graduating on time.
Of course, that would be the case if graduation rates were actually based on four years. You might be surprised to find out that when you see graduation rates quoted, what you are actually seeing is the percentage of students who graduate in six years, not four. If you can find the four year graduation rate, you will find that it’s even less than the six year rate.
You can read more about the historical context of graduation rates on the Chronicle of Higher Education’s College Completion website.
Ultimately, you have to pay close attention to these numbers. If a school is doing a poor job of graduating students in four years, a student could end up in a very costly situation.
So, look the numbers up and then ask admission counselors about them when you visit or meet them at a college fair. Find out what’s affecting graduation rates and decide for yourself if the reason for the lower rates is concerning. For example, some schools have lower four year graduation rates due to co-op programs. These programs, which are popular at schools like Northeastern University, Kettering University and Rochester Institute of Technology, require a student to mix in long-term, paid experiential opportunities which almost always push a student into a fifth year.
For some students, that’s a good reason to be in school for five years. Especially, if they really maximize the opportunity a co-op presents them to develop their resume and professional network if not land their first real job.
For other students, who haven’t done their homework and don’t know what they’re getting into, it could simply mean more student loan debt.
If you want some help and guidance on your college search and application process, especially help with identifying the right colleges for you, contact me today to set up an appointment for a free 60-minute consultation.
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