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Education Officials Review College Completion Rate Study

Officials from The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation and the Vermont State Colleges system hosted a summit today to discuss the results of a study that tracked students from the class of 2012 to determine if they completed college and how long it took.
The report is a follow-up to two previous reports tracking high school students into post-secondary education. In 2014 VSAC – the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation – looked at the students’ aspirations. In 2015 it followed up with a report on postsecondary enrollment.   President and CEO Scott Giles:  “What we wanted to be able to do is to identify some of the factors that contributed to the success of students in obtaining their degrees on time as well as the factors that were correlated with either dropping out or delayed graduation.”

The report outlines a number of completion rate factors. While 60 percent of the Class of 2012 that enrolled in a four-year college graduated on time, the report shows graduation rates varied based on the type of college – whether it’s public or private.  Transfer students are 30 percent less likely to graduate because they lose about 40 percent of their credits when they transfer.  Students who left college for a semester or more are 70 percent less likely to graduate within four years.

Vermont State Colleges System Chancellor Jeb Spaulding says the new report reinforces many factors like parental support and academic preparation that are critical for a student’s college success.  “One particular graph I thought was instructive it’s surprising because I always talk about we have a smaller percentage of our high school graduates going on to college than the other states in New England and not very favorable on a national basis either. But when I look at the report it showed that actually of our high school graduates the percentage going on to four-year colleges is above the New England average, 16 percent above the national average.  But the percentage of students going on to two-year colleges is 50 percent of the New England average and one-quarter of the national average. So there’s a lot of information in there that I think will be allowing us to actually dig a little deeper to see what kind of programming we need to build up in the state.”

Champlain College President Don Laackman says overall the study found that 22 percent of  the students left college without a four-year degree.  “We took a deep dive into our data to try to gain insight into why students are dropping out and you know we hope they complete somewhere.  But it is a mix of issues. Some of it is financial. Some of it’s social-emotional. Some of it’s resilience and ability to have confidence that they can complete an academic program. And any one of those things may prevent a student from coming back. So while it’s particular to each institution and each student there are some themes there about helping all students build the resilience and the confidence to both navigate college successfully and call upon the financial resources necessary to help them complete.”

The study used enrollment data from the National Student Clearinghouse and the VSAC 2012 Senior Survey.