50-50 Highlights: Availability/Attendance of Colleges with High Graduation Rates by State

collage of colleges with high graduation ratesPerhaps you’ve seen some variation of this headline recently: “Most colleges students don’t graduate on time.” And maybe you’ve thought, “What’s the deal with college students these days?” and just left it at that. But what if the headline was “Most colleges fail to graduate students in 4 years?” Who are you thinking about now, the college or the student?

If you’ve spent any time on my website, you know this is something that I think about-a lot. Since colleges, unlike any other organization that receives government money except for military contractors, aren’t held accountable for their results. This means that families need to take graduation rates into consideration when selecting colleges.

After all, if you don’t graduate, it doesn’t matter how great of a match the college is.

Think about this-the expectation is that the average full-time college student isn’t going to graduate in four-years. And it’s not really surprising given that out of over 1,500 four-year colleges with 500 or more full-time undergraduates, only¬† 579 (37%) have graduation rates of 49% or better (4-year rate for private schools, 5-year rate for public).

Fortunately, some of these institutions are large universities which explains why 50% of all undergraduates actually attend a college with a 49% or better graduation rate. However, in 25 states less than half of all students attend a college with a 49% or better graduation rate. In six states, none of the students attend such schools because they don’t exist in those states.

In some states, the majority of the students attending colleges with higher graduation rates are at institutions that admit less half of all applicants. In California, 49% of full-time undergraduates attend institutions with a 49% or better graduation rate but only 13% attend such a school that also admits more than half of their applicants. 57% of students in New York are at schools with graduation rates of 49% or better but only 26% of them are at schools with a 49% or better admission rate.

In these states, if you can’t get into a competitive school, your chances of attending a school that graduates most of its students drops significantly.

Some would argue that such a situation is inevitable since more competitive schools are taking better prepared students. I’m sure that’s true to a certain extent. Yet, 48% of students in Ohio are attending schools with a high graduation rate and accept at least half of their students. Only 4% are at schools that don’t accept at least half of all applicants.

I realize that not all colleges can graduate the majority of their students because of the qualifications of the students they admit. In some cases, a 25% graduation rate is a major accomplishment depending on the students.

But over half of all colleges fail to graduate a majority of their students–not just those with low-income, first generation, or under-represented students. On what basis do they justify admitting the students and taking their money?

Just because the government continues to fund colleges without regard to their effectiveness doesn’t mean that individual families should. Of course, not all families have a choice where they can send their students to college. But if they do, why shouldn’t they consider graduation rates?

The following table show the number of colleges and full-time undergraduates in each state. 50-50 schools are those that admit at least 49% of students and have at least a 49% graduation rate. Any 50 schools are those that have at least a 49% graduation rate and any admission rate. The four-year graduation rate is used for private schools and the five-year rate for public.

Availability/Attendance of Colleges with High Graduation Rates by State

State50-50
School
50-50%
of all
Colleges
Any 50
School
Any 50
School
% of all
Colleges
Total
Colleges
% of
Undergrads
at 50-50
Schools
% of
Undergrads
at any
50 School
Alabama415519264141
Alaska00300
Arizona44444496868
Arkansas315315202929
California17203946841349
Colorado315630204048
Connecticut5221148234158
Delaware12512546666
District of Columbia1134508972
Florida11161420692136
Georgia612815522125
Hawaii00700
Idaho114114722
Illinois21372442575561
Indiana17411946415357
Iowa14541558267980
Kansas2929234646
Kentucky622622272626
Louisiana29313232228
Maine533853154665
Maryland11421454264272
Massachusetts21323858653162
Michigan816918493546
Minnesota14421752333663
Mississippi214321144849
Missouri11261331424551
Montana1101101044
Nebraska424424174444
Nevada00600
New Hampshire542650125464
New Jersey10361243285664
New Mexico00800
New York373064521242657
North Carolina11221733514459
North Dakota00900
Ohio22282633794852
Oklahoma415519264044
Oregon953953176363
Pennsylvania554968601136273
Rhode Island550770105066
South Carolina11351135315959
South Dakota217217125252
Tennessee617822362227
Texas11141418772839
Utah18325121215
Vermont655764117585
Virginia15382153405267
Washington13421342316767
West Virginia1616183838
Wisconsin13381338345454
Wyoming00100
Grand Total432275793715863750

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