On the Issues—Unintended Consequences in the Race to Improve College Completion Rates


An “On the Issues” Post from the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education [http://futureofhighered.org]


As happens too often in higher education these days, the recent push to increase college completion rates shows how laudable goals can become problematic when pursued in narrow, rigid ways.  Who wouldn’t want to increase the numbers of college graduates?  The goal is certainly a no-brainer.

However, a report to be released next month by the National Student Research Clearinghouse Center showing unchanged college completion rates over the last year could encourage a policy push in the wrong direction.

As the report shows, some groups—working students, parents, and other students who (for any number of legitimate reasons) can only attend college part-time– have a harder time graduating in the “magical” 6 years defined as “successful completion.”  That, too, is a no-brainer.

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