Nearly Half of First-Time College Students Aren't Graduating

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 27 2013 10:53 AM

Nearly Half of First-Time College Students Don't Graduate in Six Years

Fifty-four percent of students who started college for the first time in 2006 graduated within six years.
Fifty-four percent of students who started college for the first time in 2006 graduated within six years.

Photo by Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

Just over half—or 54.1 percent, to be exact—of first-time college students starting school in 2006 graduated within six years. That's according to a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The full report, which breaks down completion rates by state, age, type of school, and enrollment status (part-time or full-time), shows some notable gaps in completion rates for those categories.

For four-year public colleges, 81 percent of students enrolled full-time for the duration of their college experience graduated within six years—70 percent from the same institution they started with. But just 19 percent of those who attended school part-time graduated within six years. You'd think that's because it may be taking students longer than six years to complete a four-year degree part-time, right? Not really. Almost 70 percent of exclusively part-time students hadn't graduated and were no longer enrolled at any institution after six years. Meanwhile, mixed-enrollment students had an overall graduation rate of just under 47 percent. Four-year private nonprofit schools had a similar breakdown in graduation rates by enrollment status.

Advertisement

In 13 states, the number of part-time students with no degree and no current enrollment after starting at a four-year public college was more than 75 percent, even worse than the nationwide average. "Traditional age" students (i.e., under 24 years old) had higher graduation rates than older students in pretty much every state. The completion rate gap was the smallest in Arizona at just 1 percent, but largest in Vermont, at 42 percent.

The Chronicle of Higher Education created an interactive map based on the data, which gives a good picture of the state-by-state numbers. Or, you can read the report in full here.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Global Marches Demand Action on Climate Change

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Americans' Inexplicable Aversion to the 1990s
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.