It was the last day of student government elections at Purdue University, and junior Bobby Hadrix, running for class president, was doing some 11th-hour stumping on the campus oval alongside fervent supporters in bright red matching T-shirts.
Although they hadn’t become an issue in the campaign, Purdue’s graduation rates had just been publicly announced for the first time as part of Indiana’s new effort to increase the number of degree holders in the state. And the news was not good.
Only 38 percent of students seeking bachelor’s degrees, who did not transfer, were managing to graduate on time, the state reported. Nearly a third still hadn’t finished after even eight years.
Newspaper editorial pages blasted the university, and other institutions whose results were worse; the average on-time graduation rate at four-year schools in Indiana turned out to be 28 percent, and only 4 percent at two-year community colleges.
Those numbers are higher than the 19 percent national average on-time completion rate for four-year universities, and the same as the national average for community colleges, according to the advocacy organization Complete College America. But they were still “alarming,” pronounced the state’s commissioner of higher education, who added there was “cause for even deeper concern” about the fact that graduation rates for racial minorities and low-income students were lower still. <Read more.>