By David Adams | Echo
Victory laps and super senior year-two terms for taking an extra year to graduate at Taylor. Two terms that describe what may be a national epidemic.
The majority of students at public U.S. colleges and universities fail to complete bachelor's degrees in the standard four-year period, according to a study Complete College America (CCA) published Monday. An alliance of 35 states make up CCA; no state's on-time graduation rates are high.
At non-flagship state universities nationwide, fewer than 1 in 5 students graduate with bachelor's degrees on time. At flagship universities, which focus on research, just over 1 in 3 students finish in four years. In Indiana, CCA's report stated 17 percent of students at non-flagship state institutions graduate with bachelor's degrees in four years, while 42 percent of students at flagship schools do.
In explanation for the dismal rates, CCA's report pointed to a variety of factors. Low ratios of academic advisers to students, ineffective remedial programs, students failing to take enough credits each semester and failure of credits to transfer between universities are the top factors contributing to poor four-year graduation rates.
At Taylor and other Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) schools, the graduation situation isn't quite as dire.
In Taylor's class of 2014, 66 percent of seniors graduated on time, according to the university's student consumer information. In the class of 2012, 67 percent graduated within four years, and an additional 7 percent graduated within six years.
Taylor's graduation rates surpass the CCCU average, even compared to the CCCU's six-year graduation rates. Across the CCCU's 115 member institutions, just 54 percent of students entering in 2006 had graduated by 2012. Graduation rates varied from 26 to 88 percent across the member institutions.
The key problem with low graduation rates at any institution, CCA's report pointed out, is the high cost of a fifth or subsequent year of college. At Indiana state institutions, a fifth year will cost students $67,952 on average: $22,625 in cost of attendance and $45,327 in lost wages.
Substituting Taylor's cost of attendance in that equation brings the total cost of a fifth year at Taylor to $85,069, using Taylor's cost of attendance according to 2013-14 College Navigator data from the Department of Education.
Improving on-time graduation rates is a national concern, CCA stated. The report advocated providing academic maps for students to guide them in planning their courses of study, supporting them through academic advising and cllosely monitoring student progress throughout their educational careers.
At Taylor, a realistic goal for graduation rates is 80 percent, according to Institution Research Analyst Steve Dayton. Even so, he said, "If we reached 80 percent, we would not want to stop there."