How 'Good' is Your Retention Rate? (6 pages)

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fact that these public-private differences decline somewhat when six-year rates are used

suggests that students in the public colleges and universities are taking longer to

complete their degrees (see Table 2).

Table 2
Four-year, six-year and six-plus years* degree attainment rates, by
institutional type


Unweighted n

Weighted percentage
completing bachelor’s degree
within**

Institutional type

Students

Institutions

Four years

Six years

Six-
plus
years*

Public university

6,650

20

28

58

62

Private university

4,931

18

67

80

80

Public college

7,457

27

24

47

52

Nonsectarian college 17,610

75

56

66

67

Roman Catholic
college

5,436

38

46

60

62

Other Christian
college

14,734

84

51

61

62

All institutions

56,818

262

36

58

61

*Considers students who are still enrolled six plus years as degree completers.
**Figures in table have been rounded to whole numbers.
Note: Weighted to approximate national norms for 1994 freshmen.

Effects of academic preparation

The chances of completing college in four or six years varies widely according to

the student’s level of academic preparation. Those who earn an A or A-plus grade point

average in high school have four and six-year completion rates of 58.2% and 77.5%,

respectively, compared to rates of only 8% (four-year) and 20% (six-year) for those with

C averages in high school. Similar differences are found with scores on standardized

college admissions tests: Among students whose composite score on the SAT is at least

1,300, four and six-year completion rates are 62.3% and 76.5%, respectively, compared

to only 18.2% and 39.8% for students whose composite score is less than 800.

The largest differences are observed when school grades and test scores are

combined: students with A averages and scores of 1,300 or above have four and six-

year completion rates of 68.9% and 82.6%, respectively, compared to 7.8% and 20.4%

for students with C averages and test scores below 800.

The data in Table 2 suggest that it would be unwise, and possibly misleading, to

compare the raw degree completion rates of different institutions without taking into

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