College graduation rates: What are they and why do they matter?
Summary: Some colleges have more students graduate in four years than others. Find out why it matters.
Time to read: 1 minute, 25 seconds
Who this is for: Juniors, Seniors and Parents
A college’s graduation rate tells you how long it takes students who go there to graduate. And since every year you spend in college costs you another year of tuition, it’s important to know if your school will help you graduate as soon as possible.
Finish in 4 years
It’s really important to finish in 4 years. Why? Because the Federal Government will only give you 4 years of low cost loans and after that, you have to borrow from higher cost private lenders. Also, why would you spend more than you have to, to get a college degree?
What’s a good graduation rate? – Find out when you visit.
In terms of helping students graduate in four years, some colleges have a better record than others. Do the schools you’re considering have good graduation rates? Find out by asking these questions on your college visits.
- What percentage of your students graduate in 4 years? The number should be between 60% and 100%. If it’s lower than that, ask what they are doing about it.
- What percentage of your students don’t graduate at all? This number should be no greater than 10%. If it’s more than that, ask what they are doing about improving that percentage.
- What percentage of your senior class is employed after graduation? The idea behind this question is to get a sense of how well the college or university prepares students to get a job after they earn their bachelor’s degree.
What’s a good graduation rate? – Find out online.
Go to www.collegescorecard.ed.gov. But be aware: This page and similar sources may use a six year graduation rate. You want to know the four year graduation rate, so be sure to ask the school. Also, they may use a “median salary,” but that is not starting salary. You will not make the median salary as soon as you graduate.
A note: Keep in mind that some of the statistics you hear in response may or may not be accurate, or may be weighted in a certain direction. Even so, these are good questions to ask, if only for the insights they may provide on the way a college encourages its students to graduate in four years.
Some colleges have more students graduate in four years than others. Find out why it matters.