Think Tank Finds That Fewer Than 55% Of College Students Graduate Within 6 Years


It used to take four years for students to get their undergraduate degrees, but many of today’s college students realize it can take one, two or even three semesters longer to finish up their schooling. With remedial classes adding to the standard course load and with other required classes available only on a sporadic basis, finishing college with your graduating class can be a challenge.

Many Students Never Finish Their Studies

Entering college freshmen fully expect to finish their undergraduate education, usually within four years time. Unfortunately, even six years from starting out, just under 55% of college students get their bachelor degree.

Entering college freshmen fully expect to finish their undergraduate education, usually within four years time. Unfortunately, even six years from starting out, just under 55% of college students are able to get their bachelor degree.

Perhaps most surprising is a worsening trend where students simply are not finishing up their schooling at all. In a survey recently conducted by the conservative think tank, American Enterprise Institute, and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, just over half (55%) of students graduate within six years of beginning their college education a national average number that only tells part of the story.

For example, Harvard University reports one of the highest graduation rates at 97%, no small achievement considering the cost of education and academic challenges associated with an Ivy League school. On the other end of the spectrum, Chicago State University in Illinois reported a 16% rate.

“Such differences suggest that while student motivation, finances, and ability matter greatly when it comes to college completion, the practices of higher education institutions matter, too,” Frederick M. Hess, lead author of Diplomas and Dropouts, said.

Government Statistics With Some Caveats

The study was based on statistics supplied by the U.S. Department of Education and doesn’t include all schools offering undergraduate degrees. Moreover, the study doesn’t take into account students who have transferred to other schools, a “black hole” of statistical information which can skewer some of the figures. Nevertheless, the trend to taking longer to finish school is alarming, one that adds to the cost of education for college students and their families.

The study gives specific graduation rates for participating schools, information that parents, students, and guidance counselors need to have as a student chooses which college to attend. With college costs soaring ever higher, making sure that the money is well invested is of utmost importance to all.

“At a time when growing unemployment disproportionately affects workers without a degree, it is critical that this information is available and accessible so that consumers can make informed decisions,” Kevin Carey, coauthor of Diplomas and Dropouts, said.

To learn more about this study, please visit the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. This link takes you to the news release announcing the study.

Adv. – Are you ready to leave for college? I don’t mean being academically prepared although that is a good thing. Rather, do you have all of the things that you need to help you succeed while on campus? has what you need for your dorm, as well as school supplies, transportation tips and food among other stuff. Stop by today to see what we’re all about!

Photo Credit: Omar Franco


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Categories: Campus News