Graduation Rates

One of the things used to rate colleges is graduation rates. If someone is considering going to a college, a graduation rate of less than 10% is frightening. A reasonable student might ask, why am I going to a school where 90% of the students don’t make it? On the other hand, an employer might look at those graduation rates and feel that graduating from that particular school means something. Students aren’t just passed. They have to earn their degrees.

A community college is in an entirely different situation. A large percent of the students go there with no intention of graduating. Even those who intend to go to a four year college, and graduate from there, may plan to take only a few semesters or perhaps a only a few courses at the community college. Sometimes they are bringing themselves up to college level. Sometimes they are waiting for a delayed admission and want to get a start on their education while they wait. Often, they want to take their freshman year at a school that is cheaper and allows them to live at home.

There are also many courses for people who have no intention of graduating from college, such as food safety courses for restaurant workers. Then there are people like my husband, who has taken three courses for recreation. These courses were in biology, math, and history, which most people would not consider as subjects that are recreation. There is also a story, possibly apocryphal, of someone who has taken physical education every semester for decades.

I took some computer science courses at a four-year college for recreation, and decided to graduate when I realized I only needed two more courses to get a degree. Under slightly different circumstances, I might never have obtained a second bachelor’s degree. I can’t be the only one who has taken courses without intending to graduate. I’ve also taken education courses at a school that I did not graduate from.

Although I am a believer in using statistics to make judgments, this particular statistic should be looked at very carefully.

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