Why Graduation Rates Matter So Much


Deciding which college to attend is so much more than who offers the right program or happens to be located in the closest city to home. The right college will also actively work to help their students succeed.

This might seem like a given, like it should be every student’s experience no matter what school they’re enrolled in. Sadly, it often isn’t the case.

There are certain statistics that can provide insight into what the student experience is actually like at a university. One of these numbers is the graduation rate and here is why it matters so much.

What is a Graduation Rate?

To put it simply, a university’s graduation rate indicates how many students enroll for the first time during the fall semester and graduate four years later. This is the hopeful course for a lot of attendees. The ideal it thought to be avoiding taking a break, dropping out or staying on for another semester. Graduation rates are presented as a percentage and the higher that number is, the better the school is doing helping students stay on track.

It’s About Saving Money

College is expensive. New graduates are drowning in student debt and those who are about to start their collegiate education should take note. Since a school’s graduation rate indicates how many students manage to finish in four years, this speaks to the number of students who don’t have to pay for an extra semester or two. If a school is set up to help students succeed in the traditional timeframe, their students don’t face thousands in extra loans or tuition payments so they can get their diploma.

Good Rates = Good Environments

While graduation rates aren’t the perfect indication of how students fare at a university, a high rate does speak to the environment. If graduating and doing it on time is valued by other students and faculty, this often shows because more students are accomplishing just that. Plus, as The Chronicle of Higher Education points out, there may be a beneficial spirit of peer pressure that encourages new students to stay on task and focus on their goals for the future.

The Limitations

A college’s graduation rate does have its limitations. It only takes into consideration a very traditional student, the one that starts and finishes at the same school and attends full time.

There are many other students who choose a different path, like part-time attendance or beginning at a community college and transferring in. When these individuals graduate, it isn’t any less of a success. However, these numbers aren’t included in a school’s graduation rate and that could skew the results.

Ultimately, a prospective student should understand that there is a decent amount of research that needs to be done before committing to a school. In addition to this rate, it is a good idea to talk to other students and alumni to get their feedback on their college experience as well as insight on what life after college was like. It is also important to take into consideration the cost of the school, scholarships available and the availability of programs that will meet your specific needs.

~Here’s to Your Success!

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