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Just Half of College Students Finish Their Degrees

Education college 300x219 Just Half of College Students Finish Their DegreesBy Philip Elliott

WASHINGTON — Fewer than half of all students who entered college in 2007 finished school where they started, and almost a third are no longer taking classes toward a degree anywhere, according to a review recently released.

The dire numbers underscore the challenges that colleges confront as they look to bring in more students and send them out into the world as graduates. The numbers also could complicate matters for students at schools with low graduation rates; the U.S. Department of Education’s still-emerging college rating system is considering linking colleges’ performances with federal financial aid.

Overall, 56 percent of those who started college in 2007 have finished their coursework on any campus, according to the research arm of the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit organization that works with colleges to verify students’ enrollment and graduation status.

About 29 percent of those who started college that year are no longer taking classes toward a degree. The researchers also found 43 percent of all students finished their degrees where they started. The number ranges from 67 percent of students who enrolled full time in 2007 to just 19 percent of those who enrolled part time.

Thirteen percent of students who entered college in 2007 finished their degrees at a different school from where they started.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center worked with more than 3,500 schools to review almost 2.4 million records and track students as they transfer among schools.

“Conventional approaches fail to capture the complexity of student behavior because they look only at the starting institution where the student first enrolled,” said Doug Shapiro, the chief at the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

The new analysis indicates students who enter private four-year, not-for-profit schools are more likely to finish their degrees than those who pick public four-year or four-year, for-profit schools.

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