The push for four-year college completion | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The push for four-year college completion

Posted By on Sun, Jun 3, 2012 at 7:56 AM

GET OUT OF HERE: University of Arkansas commencement comes in four years for only about 1 in 3 entering students.
  • University of Arkansas
  • GET OUT OF HERE: University of Arkansas commencement comes in four years for only about 1 in 3 entering students. Public colleges are trying to improve the rate.

I was talking to a bright young fellow the other day who's looking ahead to a fifth year (and one last football season) at the University of Arkansas. Job market isn't exactly robust; he likes college; prices are rising but scholarship help has eased some of the pain.

Turns out my friend is part of a trend that college leaders are trying to reverse. From the Washington Post today:

Some of the nation’s top public universities are prodding dallying students toward the graduation stage, trying to change a campus culture that assumes four-year completion is the exception rather than the rule.

It’s a move supported not just by parents whose wallets are depleted by tuition bills. University leaders are pushing for on-time completion amid criticism over wasted tax dollars, spiraling tuition and America’s plummeting global rank in college attainment.

Fewer than half of students graduate in four years at 33 of the 50 state flagship schools. The overall four-year graduation rate is 31 percent for public colleges and 52 percent for private ones, the federal government reported this year.

The dallying occurs as some private colleges move to experiment with three-year graduation paths, to offset college cost sticker shock.

As you can see here in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Arkansas is way behind the curve on graduation rates — 19.7 percent at public colleges in four years.

The chart shows that UA-Fayetteville led the way among public colleges, but only barely above the national average, with a 34.5 percent four-year graduation rate. UAPB brought up the rear at 6.8 percent.

The chart link will also take you to figures for private colleges. Both John Brown and Hendrix topped 50 percent in four-year graduation rates, around the national average.

I don't know about young people today, but I recall that I was more than ready to move on after four undergrad years.

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