Falling completion rates may jeopardize institutional value
- A new study reveals that less than 50% of first-time college students graduate within six years, a statistic that contrasts dramatically with the U.S. Department of Education's guidelines for families on how to find a quality college or university.
- More than 20% of students who use loans to pay for school are unable to repay them, a performance metric which has federal and state implications in funding and ranking for public institutions.
- To improve outcomes, college leaders will have to find a careful balance between recruiting diverse sets of students with varying levels of readiness and sacrificing outcomes, or increasing standards and losing diversity and inclusion metrics.
Colleges and universities appear to be in a no-win situation when it comes to performance outcomes and standards set by federal and state oversight bodies. Working to admit low-income and minority students creates reduced performance metrics on the back end, while increasing admissions standards blocks out many of these students but yields better returns in graduation, loan repayment and job placement.
The best solution for many of these campuses is to forge partnerships with community colleges or for-profit schools, in order to seemingly contract out remediation responsibility to schools with lower outcome expectations. This will hurt graduation rates since transfer students do not count to completion yield, but it does produce tuition revenue and allows for different strategy in recruitment and retention efforts for high achieving students.