Dozens of public universities across the country..., report that fewer than half of their full-time freshmen in 2007 earned bachelor’s degrees after six years at those schools or after switching to other schools.
That finding emerges from an unusual cache of data posted on a nongovernmental Web site to provide what sponsors call “a more comprehensive and accurate picture” of college outcomes than can be found in federal records. The new data put a rare spotlight on a crucial group: transfer students.
The government tracks graduation rates for first-time, full-time students who finish where they began. But that omits the huge number who hop from school to school. Colleges are now stepping forward to fill in gaps in public knowledge through a site called Student Achievement Measure.
So far, 250 public colleges and 16 private schools have disclosed details about outcomes for the class that entered in fall 2007, including the proportions that:
●Graduated from their original school within six years.
●Graduated from other schools.
●Were still enrolled in quest of degrees.
●Had dropped out or were for some other reason untrackable.
These questions matter because every college student who fails to finish has invested a significant amount of money and effort — possibly going into debt — without reaping any of the economic or social benefits of obtaining a degree. Students of modest means, whose parents never went to college, are often those who face the highest hurdles in the effort to graduate.