In the infinite depths of the College Scorecard awaited so much data that we returned more. This time we’ll see what thousands of data can tell us about graduates in U.S. institutions
Income to the finish line
Many students enroll in public colleges for the purpose of transferring to a four-year institution. After all, the benefits are well advertised. Complete your core courses for less money by staying closer to home, or get a junior degree and earn more money for a bachelor’s degree. But how many students achieve this goal?
According to our analysis of two-year colleges, which are classified as “major” campuses, the prospects are not very good. Spartanburg Methodist College, which has fewer than 1,000 students in South Carolina, is at the top of the pile. Only one in five of its students completes a bachelor’s degree within four years of transfer.
If we choose a larger campus, Blinn College, which has about 17,800 students, ranks fifth. At this Texas college, 18 percent of students who transfer to a four-year institution receive a bachelor’s degree in four years.
These figures are quite consistent with what the researchers found. Columbia University’s Community College Research Center reports that among students who first enrolled in a public college in 2014, 15 percent went to university and earned a bachelor’s degree after six years.
Colleges at the bottom of our analysis report that about 1 percent of transfer students achieved the goal of earning a bachelor’s degree within four years of transitioning to a four-year institution.
Six years is considered a normal time for students to complete their bachelor’s degree. But whether students get to graduate in six years – and begin to see a return on their investment in their salary – depends on many factors. And there are huge differences in how quickly students complete their studies based on ethnicity.
In total, about half of full-time students in four-year institutions complete their studies within six years. The rate is highest among Asian students, with about two-thirds receiving diplomas during this period.
But that figure falls 25 percent for Native American and Alaska Native students, of whom only two-fifths graduate after six years. Native students face the litany barriers to higher education, with just 16 percent graduated with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
The main question
What degrees do students complete? Business, health and social sciences are among the top three programs according to to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Use our interactive tool to study programs chosen by students at major universities (with at least 30,000 students).