Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A 4-Year Degree?

Last week the Chronicle of Higher Education released a new website that seems to have succeeded in finally getting people to sit up and take notice of the huge challenges confronting colleges and universities.  This morning, a colleague stopped by my office, pointed at the 4-year graduation rates of the universities in UW System, and said "Can this possibly be right?"  My answer was "YES. Now what are we going to do about it?"

Finding institutions' 4-year bachelor's degree rates isn't so easy anymore, given that so many popular publications now focus on completion over 6 years. The argument is that "since hardly anyone finishes in 4 anymore, why bother?" I get that-- college experiences have changed, so have the students, and we need to realign our expectations. That said, most of the public still calls the BA a "4-year degree."  And it's simply not.  Here, in case you missed it, are the 4-year degree completion rates of the 13 public universities in Wisconsin. What are we going to do about it?

Eau Claire: 25.7%
Green Bay: 23.1%
La Crosse: 32.4%
Madison: 49.7%
Milwaukee: 14.9%
Oshkosh: 14.6%
Parkside: 9.8%
Platteville: 17.6%
River Falls: 26.0%
Stevens Point: 21.1%
Stout: 19.9%
Superior: 16.4%
Whitewater: 24.5%

The black/white gap, averaged across these schools, is 9.3 vs. 28.6%

Note: These are for students who start college full-time. Part-time freshmen are excluded.

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