What’s unfair about college grad rates


It’s no coincidence that college graduation rates are highest for the most selective schools. The Department of Education metric considers only¬†first-time, full time, fall-starting college-goers who complete in six years or less. The Department of Ed.’s official graduation rate for these students is 59 percent; for students at schools with open admissions, it’s only 33 percent.

A growing number of college students complete their degrees, but are not counted in a school’s graduation rate because they are part-time, or transfer students, or they take longer than six years to finish.

That’s going to be a big deal if, as promised, the Obama administration ties federal financial aid to “value” metrics like the graduation rate. The Department of Ed. already publishes a College Scorecard, a website where families can go to compare prospective schools.

Our podcast guest Vinton Thompson, President of¬†Metropolitan College of New York, says that the graduation rate is a poor metric that will do more harm than good if it doesn’t change.