Too few finish college, or take too much time

Education Week reports on some sobering statistics about college, courtesy of information from the U.S. Department of Education:

  1. One-third of people who start a college education still haven’t finished it six years later. In other words,
  2. Slightly more than one-third of all students–36 percent–finish their degree within 4 years of starting it.
  3. Only 25% of people who start a two-year program at a community college are finished with it after 3 years.
  4. “It now takes the majority of students at least six years to earn a bachelor’s degree.” I don’t know if that means if a majority of all students who start actually finish, and take on average 6+ years (bad enough) or if it means that of those who actually do finish, a majority take 6+ years (even worse).

Despite the considerable drop-out rate, President Obama wants to encourage even more people to try college: “It’s essential that we put a college degree in reach of everyone who wants it.”

Are we witnessing a “higher-education bubble?”

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Comments

  • John  On January 11, 2011 at 3:43 am

    Can one take longer than 6 years to finish a college degree? Does a college fix 6 years as the maximum number of years to finish?

    • John R. LaPlante  On January 11, 2011 at 7:03 am

      Obviously the answer to the first question is yes, though I suspect the number of people who go the 7-year route is fairly small. As to why the statistic is for 6 years rather than 5 or 7, I don’t know. Regardless, given the many demands on the public purse for financing, it’s arguably fair to say that it’s not desirable from the taxpayers’ standpoint for students to not finish their degrees, or take 7 or more years to do so.

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