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

The Slatest
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.


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.



Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

Walmart Is Crushing the Rest of Corporate America in Adopting Solar Power

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
Oct. 21 2014 5:38 PM Justified Paranoia Citizenfour offers a look into the mind of Edward Snowden.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.