When choosing a college, you might look at a school’s top programs or the average SAT scores of its applicants. But have you thought about college graduation rates?
The national graduation rate from 4-year colleges and universities is surprisingly low — fewer than 60% of college students graduate after 6 years. And even in groups of similar schools, the variation in college graduation rates can be wide.
In one study by the American Enterprise Institute, two competitive colleges with similarly qualified applicants and equivalent tuition fees still showed big differences in graduation rates – 57% of students graduated in six years at one, compared to 87% at the other!
Why do college graduation rates matter? Schools with high graduation rates often provide the services and support that can help students navigate the college experience.
Considering college graduation rates can help you:
Taking college graduation rates into account during your college search can help you save money in a few ways.
Since students typically pay tuition per semester enrolled or by the number of credits they’re taking, racking up more semesters can get pricey. Graduating within four to six years can keep costs more manageable.
High graduation rates might also indicate which schools give more substantial financial aid packages. Students that can afford their schools are far more likely to stay enrolled and complete their degree.
Avoid red tape.
Graduating in four to six years, especially for those with big academic goals, can take some planning in advance.
You’ll probably have course requirements for your college major, but many schools have other subject requirements to fulfill. Add on minors and double majors and there’s a lot to remember!
Some schools will help their students navigate these requirements to graduation and avoid tricky red tape that might delay graduation plans.
When I was in my senior year, two of the classes I needed to graduate met at the same time. Instead of waiting another year to take the required class, I applied to do one on my own – and got the credit I needed to graduate.
Get help when you need it.
Adjusting to the new classes, new friends and new living arrangements in college is exciting – but can be a lot to take in! College graduation rates can give you a hint about how a school supports students who need some guidance.
Colleges that offer available and effective academic advising and personal counseling services can help students have a great college experience – and receive their diplomas on time!
Find the right college for you.
College graduation rates are controlled by many factors, but they can be useful to see how many students feel satisfied by their college choice after they arrive on campus.
Schools with high graduation rates have only a small number of students who transfer to another school during their 4 years – a statistic that can indicate a contented student population.
Of course, the best way to get a sense of student life is to see it for yourself on a campus visit. But if you’re going by the numbers, consider college graduation rates when picking the school for you.