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  • Graduation Rates Depend on Quality of College Shows Harvard Study
  • Posted By:
  • Karen W.
  • Posted On:
  • 11-Aug-2012
  • One of the most important issues discussed today is college completion in keeping with our President’s goal of sixty per cent increase in the number of college graduates by 2020. There was an increase in the percentage of Americans between age group 25 and 34 from 38.8 per cent to 39.3 per cent in the number of Americans with post-secondary degree according to 2009-2010 census data says a press release from the Department of Education.

    Our country has a long way to go though this statistics is encouraging. Most of the research conducted so far has focused on to what extent students are prepared for college. The fact that quality of institutions plays a major role in completion rates is shown by a recent study. This study was conducted by Kennedy School of Government researchers.

    Two groups of students were compared by Sarah Cohodes and Joshua Goodman, authors of this research study, says a Kennedy School article. One group is of students who were unable to qualify and the other of those whose scores made them eligible for the John and Abigail Adams scholarship Program based on merit.

    Those who were eligible for this scholarship did not have to pay tuition at the public colleges in Massachusetts. Through this program, colleges were able to retain students who performed high but this resulted in stopping these students from attending out-of-state and private colleges that offered high quality education. This in turn resulted in lower rates of graduation among them.

    According to Cohodes and Goodman, rate of completion drastically reduced as students were forced to choose low quality colleges based on the scholarships offered. These highly skilled students would have otherwise graduated on time if they had chosen to study in colleges that offered quality education, said the authors.

    Small amounts of financial aid were therefore welcome by students who chose the aid over institutional quality. This compromise was one of the major reasons why we are unable to improve graduation rates. When it comes to college completion, we need to do much more in terms of preparing students for college education as the task otherwise could be hugely complicated.

    In-state production of college degrees was hugely affected by these scholarship programs. This means, students who did get these scholarships are not benefited much. Much is suggested by such results. In order to improve the quality of education offered by colleges, we have to go beyond changing the student body composition. This critical task has to be undertaken on a war footing.

    According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, students weigh factors such as distance and cost and choose them over education quality. As more number of students are deeply concerned about cost of college, means to attend the best schools remain evasive for most of the top performers.

    The message here is obvious. Even though students must be well prepared to attend college, focus should also turn to improving quality of education in all institutions as this is the only way to meet our President’s 2020 goal.


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