This is a follow-on to a LinkedIn post I created in 2014 and Titled: The Real Issue: Failing to Graduate is Costly. The statement remains even truer today. The National Center for Education Statistics confirms that the "6-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began their pursuit of a bachelor's degree at a 4-year degree-granting institution in fall 2008 was 60 percent."
What has changed is an awareness and a commitment by leaders in higher education such as Arizona State University President, Dr. Michael Crow who recently published a noteworthy article titled. "The Biggest Crisis in Higher Ed Isn't Student Debt, It's Students Who Don't Graduate"
Dr. Crow correctly argues "the greater crisis: the fact that more than half of those who start college fail to finish. Think about it: Tens of millions of people in the US are saddled with student debt and have no degree to help pay it off....In too many cases, they may never recover, leaving them feeling frustrated and bitter, disenfranchised and unable to find a way to better jobs and greater opportunity. Too many, saddled with debt and lacking a degree, feel trapped."
That statement is consistent with the 2014 quote from the New York Times "The vastly bigger problem is the hundreds of thousands of people who emerge from college with a modest amount of debt yet no degree. For them, college is akin to a house that they had to make the down payment on but can’t live in."
As an Arizona State University graduate and active in increasing college access and completion rates through College Success Arizona, I am pleased to read about the success of unique programs that Dr. Crow highlights such as eAdvisor and Major Maps. In addition, he reminds us of the value of corporate partnerships such as the College Achievement Plan created between ASU and Starbucks that aims to help Starbuck's employees their degrees.
In addition to the innovative approaches ASU has taken, more can be done to improve efforts to promote greater student success. Three specific topics that interest me that are worth greater discussion.
- Understanding Pipeline issues - specifically the academic readiness of students who enroll in college with insufficient skills to complete college level requirements. Articulating these common expectations is not just about a test score but about making sure that national curriculums meet international standards for literacy and numeracy.
- Understanding Family support - Academic achievement often reflects more complex factors such family socio-economic and educational attainment. Research from College Parents of America (where I serve as a Director) indicates that students with family support are more likely to graduate than those that have little to none.
- Understanding Risks that can Disrupt an Education - Next to the ability to afford college and complete the academic work, students report that "life-got-in-the-way" as the third reason why they may not complete a degree program. Growing efforts by schools to anticipate and provide protection from these unexpected events is noteworthy. Three small examples include efforts to provide robust residence life programs, student health, and counseling programs.
It is useful to broaden the discussion regarding student success and to give greater focus to the larger, more enduring problem of college completion. This is a big part of why Bill Suneson and I founded GradGuard. Our mission is to promote greater student success by helping to protect the investment students and their families make in a higher education.
GradGuard's student benefit programs help students and their families overcome the financial losses that can result from student illnesses, injuries, addiction, the death of a tuition payer as well as theft and even property damages.
Thankfully, more than 200 schools recognize the value of providing GradGuard to protect their students and provide convenient opportunities to enroll in our Tuition Protection Plan and College Renters Insurance Plan to help reduce the financial losses that may otherwise interrupt a student's path towards graduation.
This started as a simple post to share some insights from the 2016 NACUBO Student Financial Services Conference, held last week in Memphis, TN.
The National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™ recently published state specific data regarding college completion rates. The information is valuable to policy makers in general and also useful to stakeholders such as families and taxpayers.
- The overall six-year completion rate for first-time-in college degree-seeking students who started college in fall 2009 was 52.9%
- Nearly 25% of students who completed a degree did so at an institution other than the one where they first enrolled.
- 61.2% of students who started at a 4 year public institution in 2009 completed college.
- 71.5% of students who started at a 4 year private nonprofit institution in 2009 completed college.
It is important to note that this data is descriptive and not prescriptive. There are many ways to increase college completion rates. Increasing the college readiness of students is a key factor. College afordability is also a key factor. In addition, there are many factors that GradGuard also helps schools to address.
GradGuard has designed student benefits to help students overcome unexpected events that may disrupt a students education. The data below, helps identify the other factors that students indicate may cause them to withdraw from college.
It is noteworthy that the good work of the NSC Research Center. Their work with higher education institutions, states, districts, high schools, and educational organizations to better inform practitioners and policymakers about student educational pathways is building important insights for all stakeholders.
It is also important to give thanks to the financial support for this particular report that was supported by a grant from the Lumina Foundation, the Indianapolis-based private foundation, that is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college — especially 21st century students: low-income students, students of color, first-generation students and adult learners. Lumina’s goal is to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025.
Please contact us to learn more about how GradGuard aims to help schools improve college completion rates.
According to the NACUBO SFS report, as of 2013 95% of
institutions surveyed offered tuition payment plans.
We believe it is vital to understand the common practices of colleges and universities, which is why each year we seek to sponsor research on important topics of concern to both institutions and the families they serve.
In July 2014, The Arizona Republic published an article that described a local university as a "Mall for Theives". Considering recent studies, this seems to be true at many campuses across the country. For example, "the average college student has a 53% chance of having their bike stolen, and only 2.4% are ever recovered". Has your institution considered how the financial loss of a bike or a backpack impacts a student? For some students, a financial loss can cause a great setback, even preventing the student's college success.
There are many life events that can disrupt a student’s college education, but none more severe than the loss of a parent. Given the severity of such a disruption, it is startling how little awareness there on this topic. This lack of awareness could simply be that college and university administrators have not closely considered how the loss of a parent affects not only the student, but the entire institution.
Infrequent but Dramatic Impact: