Colleges Where Graduating is a Goal, Not An Expectation


In case you didn’t notice the smell of freshly showered college students and youthful optimism in the air, it is tassel-moving season. Over the next few weeks, seniors at hundreds of schools will be forced to do their laundry and think of something clever to write on their mortarboards as they walk across the stage to receive their diploma.  Bolstered by the infallible wisdom of the commencement speaker, they will gracefully close the one chapter in their lives to begin another. Or not. 

According to data from the U.S. News and World Report, the majority of students at several nationally ranked schools are likely to take a walk of a different kind: right out the door. As the numbers below demonstrate, students at these schools are more likely to transfer or dropout before completing their course of study than to walk away with a degree after six years of study. The practical result is a comparable debt load to a graduate with the earning power of a high school graduate. The depressing data is below.    

If you are looking to prolong your relationship with Ramen and community bathrooms, schools located in Alabama and New Mexico seem to be particularly fine choices. Schools in the Western and Southern regions in general seem disproportionately represented here.  However, South Carolina State takes the dubious honor of lowest graduation rate of any ranked public university in the 2013 data.

1) South Carolina State - Orangeburg, South Carolina – 35%

2) University of Alabama – Birmingham - Birmingham, Alabama – 45%

3) Southern Illinois University – Carbondale - Carbondale, Illinois – 44%

4) University of Missouri – Kansas City - Kansas City, Missouri  – 44%

5) University of New Mexico – Albuquerque, New Mexico - 45%

6) University of Alabama – Huntsville - Huntsville, Alabama – 45%

7) University of Houston - Houston, Texas – 46%

8) New Mexico State University - Las Cruces, New Mexico – 46%

9) University of Colorado – Denver - Denver, Colorado – 40%

10) Louisiana Tech University - Ruston, Louisiana – 49%

11) University of Montana – Missoula, Montana - 48%

12) University of South Dakota – Vermillion, South Dakota - 49%

In case you like your 6-year plan with an extra helping of private school tuition, you can’t go wrong with these choices. American Jewish University takes the prize for the lowest graduation rate among nationally ranked Liberal Arts Colleges. I cannot understand that one. It’s not like there is anything to do in Bel-Air, California besides hit the books. (Full Disclosure: I attended Emory & Henry College (graduating in four years) and look how great I turned out.)

1) Fisk University – Nashville, Tennessee - 42%

2) American Jewish University – Bel-Air, California - 38%

3) Lyon College – Batesville, Arkansas - 48%

4) Oglethorpe University – Atlanta, Georgia - 48%

5) Emory & Henry College – Emory, Virginia – 45%

6) Warren Wilson – Asheville, North Carolina - 45%

7) Bethany College- Bethany, West Virginia – 48%

8) Northland College – Ashland, Wisconsin - 48%