Jan 9, 2012

Area Colleges make Impressive Gains in Graduation Rates

While Georgetown, UVa, and the College of William and Mary retain their positions among colleges with the top graduation rates in the country, many other area schools are making impressive gains in the percent of undergrads completing degrees within six years.

Admittedly, the six year figure is often startling to parents who thought they were signing up for four years only. And many colleges protest that the way in which numbers are reported doesn’t take into account transfers or students who take extended breaks and eventually return to college.

But it’s the statistic collected by the federal government and represents the "primary, publicly available metric that describes how well colleges are serving their students."

Based on widely-quoted figures from the US Department of Education, only 55.5 percent of the undergrads beginning their four-year degrees complete in six years.

But many local colleges and universities are working hard to improve their individual numbers, and the results are evident. According to numbers provided by the College Results Online website, Marymount University and Christopher Newport University win local “most improved” awards by jumping 9 full percentage points in graduation rates, proving that college transition and support programs pay off.

Other winners include Towson University and Goucher College which increased their graduation rates by 7 percent and 5 percent respectively.

Results from other area colleges and universities are mixed but generally show positive trends:

For an even more comprehensive view of graduation rates over time (back to 1997), check out the College Results Online website, maintained by the Education Trust.

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