A Focus on Specific Dropouts Can Help Colleges Raise Completion Rates

College dropouts who came close to graduating but didn’t quite finish could be a key target for higher-education institutions that are under the gun to improve their completion rates, according to a report released on Tuesday by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Instead of focusing only on helping new students succeed, colleges should also be reeling in some of the four million who intended to earn degrees and finished at least two years of study before falling off track, it says. Those “potential completers” make up a small fraction of the 31 million people the clearinghouse estimates have left college without earning a degree or certificate over the past 20 years.

Chasing down former students can be expensive and time-consuming, and knowing which ones are mostly likely to return helps. Some may have completed the coursework needed for an associate degree, and others may be just a few credits away.

“Because most data up to now has focused only on the graduation rates of first-time, full-time students, those with some college, no degree have been overlooked,” the report says. They can’t afford to be forgotten today, the researchers say. <Read more.>

Via Katherine Mangan, The Chronicle of Higher Education.