Becoming a college graduate (i.e., earning your Bachelor’s degree) takes time, money, preparation, and support. However the college you attend is a very important, yet overlooked, factor that can help lead you to success. This is one major reason that U.S. News goes to the trouble of producing college rankings each year. It’s not really about attending the best college in the nation as it is attending the college that best fits your academic needs.
Public Universities With the Worst Graduation Rates
School State Graduation Rate
Southern University at New Orleans Louisiana 4.0%
University of the District of Columbia D.C. 7.7%
Kent State – East Liverpool Ohio 8.9%
Rogers State University Oklahoma 11.5%
Texas Southern University Texas 13.3%
Ohio University Southern Campus Ohio 13.7%
Kent State University Ohio 13.9%
Purdue University North Central Illinois 14.0%
Cameron University Oklahoma 14.1%
For-Profit schools are notorious for taking your money but leaving you with few skills and no degree in the end. However, people rarely talk about the public universities that are providing a similar disservice. Why is it that these public universities have failure rates as high (or higher) than many of the for-profit schools? Consider the factors required to successfully graduate:
- Time - Attending classes, studying, and engaging in your academic program takes time. In fact, it’s considered a full time job. Research shows students attending low performing schools spend about the same amount of time engaging in school related activities as their more successful peers in higher performing schools.
- Money – Thanks to grants, loans, scholarships, and savings programs most people determined to attend college will find the funding needed to do so. This really doesn't factor into a school's failure rate because many schools that are failing to graduate students are charging just as much tuition as other schools that are succeeding. However, college drop-outs are stuck with exorbitant loans that will take a lifetime to pay back – and these debts, for the large part, can’t be discharged in a bankruptcy; meaning they never go away.
- Preparation – A quick glimpse at the average composite SAT scores for students attending the lowest performing schools indicate a lot of the failure rate can be attributed to the preparation of the students attending the schools. College level courses are hard. They’re supposed to be! If your composite (i.e., total points you received when you add the Reading, Mathematics, and Writing scores together) SAT score is low, your chances of succeeding in college are also low. You may want to reconsider attending college if your scores are in the very low percentages solely because you will most likely accumulate a lot of debt before realizing college is not for you. Research also shows you will not move successfully toward graduation if the coursework lacks rigor – this is why you should carefully match your potential to achieve (based on your SAT score) and your current knowledge to a school that will meet your needs. Don’t take that scholarship that places you into a school that is really performing beneath your ability – you won’t find an appropriate peer group nor satisfaction with your classes.
- Support – Support is provided via 1) your efforts and 2) the efforts of the school to move your academic career along until you have successfully completed the requirements for graduation. You supply the work necessary to complete coursework and allow learning to occur. This means you need to be committed to attending class, doing course readings, turning in all assignments on time, and taking all tests. The school needs to ensure you have academic and personal counseling available to help you plan classes and to map your course for the future. Again, this is where school rankings come into play. If you attend a higher ranked school, your support network will be more effective – leading to that happy day in which you throw you cap into the air and celebrate your Bachelor’s Degree.
By: Sherry Thompson