Considering Graduation Rates for College Applications

Categories: Admissions Advice

As you begin (or continue to endure) the college search process, you’ll notice tons of statistics for each school you consider. One of these statistics is a graduation rate. A college’s graduation rate is the percentage of students who complete their degrees in the standard amount of time. According to a recent article about the rise and fall of graduation rates in The Chronicle of Higher Education, prospective students should not accept the graduation rate of a specific school at face value. In other words, your college journey is complex, so don’t give this rate too much weight when making your college decision.

There are certain factors that complicate the reliability of a school’s overall graduation rate. It’s important to understand that graduation rate statistics use 150% as “the standard amount of time” it takes a student to graduate. This translates to 6 years for a bachelor’s degree. It’s also becoming increasingly difficult for schools to collect data because so many students (about one third of the college population) transfer at least once and many switch majors at some point. Both of these factors produce statistics that might skew your view of  a university’s ability to teach you what you need to know on time.

So, what can you do to make sense of that graduation rate number? According to The Chronicle article, figure out what your goals are as you enter college and look at graduation rates for your specific major. Ask yourself:

Is it really important to me that I graduate in a specific amount of time?

Is it possible to achieve my degree in only four years?

How long does it take for students in my major to complete their program?

Can I afford more than four years of schooling?

Am I set in stone attending this school or could I see myself transferring closer to/farther from home after freshman year?

Remember, the article mentions the unmeasurable factor of student intention. If you enter school with determination, drive, and devotion to learning, you will have no trouble graduating when you want to. However, set backs happen and should not completely discourage you! What is important for your career post-graduation is a degree. The knowledge and experiences you gain in college will benefit you for the rest of your life. If it takes a little longer than you expected to get there, that is okay.

If you are worried about paying for more school if you don’t graduate when you’d hoped, remember that you can find loads of scholarship opportunities on Cappex! Make your profile today to get started. 

Original Post Date: July 4th, 2012

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