Who Isn’t Graduating From College?

Should more high school graduates go to college?

This question has been getting a lot of attention since President Obama announced that one of his prime education goals would be to get more Americans to attend college.

That’s a laudable and ambitious goal. I worry, however, about students, who are unprepared for college. They often get entangled in a huge financial mess when they drop out with student loans.

All you have to do is look at federal education statistics to appreciate that a lot of college dreams (but not the bills) end up shattered.

Only 58% of undergraduates earn a bachelor’s degree within six years. When you slice and dice the numbers, the grad rates for some groups is far lower. Here are the numbers:

Graduating Within Six Years

  • 67%  Asians/Pacific Islanders
  • 60% Whites
  • 49% Hispanics
  • 42% African-Americans
  • 40% Native American Indians

Women fare better than men in earning their degree. Among women, 67% graduate within six years while 62% of men do the same.

In some cases, colleges clearly failed the dropout casualties. In others, marginal students should never have aimed for a four-year college. Eighty percent of high school students in the bottom quarter of their classes never earn a bachelor’s or associate’s degree.

So what should these young people do? The New York Times ran an interesting article over the weekend, Plan B: Skip College, that attempted to address that very question.

Read More on Grad Rates:

Beware of Wildly Different Grad Rates

What Are the Chances of Graduating in Four Years?

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also writes for CBSMoneyWatch. Follow her on Twitter.

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