Econintersect: The U.S. has slipped to 14th on the list of countries based on percentage of population with four year college degrees. The data comes from the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). The graduation rate within six years of enrollment in a four year college program is only 58% and it falls well below that for minority groups and in for-profit institutions. For private for-profit institutions the graduation rate for a 4-year degree is only 28%.
Just the reverse effect is found in the data for 2-year colleges. There the private for-profit graduation rate is 60% while the public 2-year institutions graduate only 20% within three years of initial enrollment. The data does not indicate how many 2-year program students left before receiving a diploma to attend a 4-year college.
An article at National Journal says that the problems that students have completing a tertiary education program arise primarily from two sources: poor academic preparation for college and difficulty with high costs. Sometimes the two are hitting student with a double whammy. An excerpt from the National Journal discusses a most common problem:
The most common explanation, according to a survey of 600 Americans ages 22-30 conducted for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2009, is the need to hold a job while going to school. “We know if you work more than 15 hours a week, it reduces the chances of succeeding,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. “More than half the students attending postsecondary institutions work more than 15 hours a week—and almost 30 percent of all students work full time. The least-advantaged are the least likely to make it.”
This picture of problems is in contrast with another study which showed the average situation for all students portayed a different picture. A survey of 2,322 college students 2005-2009 determined across that survey group at total of 15 hours a week was devoted to the toital of "working, volunteering, Greek and other clubs." The cynical observation by GEI News at that time was that well over 3/4 of the time students were doing something other than attending classes and studying (27 hours a week).
- Education at a Glance 2012 (OECD, 2012)
- Characteristics of Postseconday Students (National Center for Education Statistics)
- The Elusive Diploma (Alina Tugend, National Journal, 27 September 2012)
- Study: Colleges are Failing Many Students (GEI News, 19 October 2011)