6 Oct 2011

College Enrollment Up While Graduation Rates Remain The Same

Author: Colin Andrews | Filed under: Local stories, Student Contributor

By: Colin Andrews

Colleges across the country have experienced a spike in enrollment in the past few years while graduation rates have remained the same, according to a new report funded by the non-profit group Complete College America featured in a New York Times story.

Bowling Green State University has been one of the colleges affected by higher enrollment while also having stagnant graduation rates. According to statistics from the Bowling Green State University website, only 36.1 percent of those students who enrolled at BGSU in 2004 earned their four-year degree by 2008. However, 60.5 percent of those students received their four-year degree by 2010. There were 15 percent more female students who achieved their four-year degree on time and 10 percent more white students earned their four year degree on time compared to students of color.

Graduation rates at BGSU, Graphic credit: Colin Andrews

Complete College America looked at students in Texas for part of its report. In Texas, of every 100 students who enrolled in a public college, 79 started at a community college and only two earned a two-year degree on time. After four years, only seven graduated. There were 21 students who enrolled in a four-year college, with only five graduating on time and only 13 achieving a degree after eight years, according to Tamar Lewin of the New York Times.

Gary Swegan, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Director of Admissions at BGSU, admits that more students are applying to BGSU.

“We’ve seen a huge spike in applications; for the fall 2009 semester approximately 10,400 students applied here, for the fall 2011 semester we received approximately 16,200 applications,” he said.

Swegan adds to the theory that more students are enrolling in college for better job opportunities.

“A baccalaureate degree today is like what a high school diploma was for my parent’s generation; it is seen as a necessity,” he said.

Four-year graduation rates may seem low, but they have remained steady at BGSU, according to Swegan and evidence from BGSU’s Institutional Research.

McFall, location of the Office of Admissions at BGSU, photo credit: Colin Andrews

Jacob Tanner, a sophomore at BGSU, may be another example of a student not graduating on time. Tanner started at BGSU in the fall of 2010 with an expected graduation date of spring of 2014. However, he has recently decided to change his major from Environmental Policy to AYA Math Education.      “I took an education class and liked it, so I decided to change my major to education,” he said.

Tanner even chose BGSU for its graduation rates.

“I wanted to find a college that was close to home so I could commute. I looked at BGSU, Toledo, and Owens and found that BGSU had the best graduation rate,” he said.

The future education graduate joins a growing population of students who cannot achieve graduation on time due to factors like changing majors, running out of money for college, degrees that take longer than four years, or from simply dropping out.

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