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Transferring College Students Mess Up Graduation Statistics

Transferring College Students Mess Up Graduation Statistics →

A new report released Tuesday by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, a nonprofit higher-education research organization, shows that 13% of students who enroll at one school end up graduating from another. With a six-year overall completion rate of 55.1% for the class that started in fall 2008, that means nearly one in four students who graduated were transfers, according to the study.

Such high mobility among students points out potential challenges in the Obama administration’s proposal to rate school performance, as well as state-level funding efforts tied to school success.

Figures currently reported by the U.S. Department of Education include as success stories only students who initially enroll on a full-time basis and those who graduate from the same school where they started. The college ratings plan largely has been put on hold amid pushback by schools.

“We’ve got to make sure that we don’t let students fall through the cracks in the transfer process,” said Jamie Merisotis, president of the Lumina Foundation, a nonprofit that works to increase the number of college graduates and provided financial backing for the report.

He said historical assumptions about how students progress through school, including that they remain in the same institution, “run against the reality of the lives that today’s college students are living.”

According to the new National Student Clearinghouse data, one in four students who first enrolled at four-year, public schools in Minnesota graduated from a different school, as did 24% of those in Missouri. Forty-seven and 39% of students who started at such schools in those states, respectively, graduated from their original institutions.

In 22 states, more than 5% of students who started at public, four-year colleges in fall 2008 completed their programs in another state. For example, 8.4% of students who enrolled in public universities in Maine ultimately graduated from schools in other states.

"The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design." — F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit

This entry was tagged. Education Policy