What Predicts Success in College?

Statistical research based on students who entered college in 2010 reveals that the average college completion is 60% in six years. 26% drop out, and 14% are still enrolled but have not earned a degree.

So, what do these figures say about making college decisions today based on the likelihood of degree completion?

Here are some factors that predict failure with some questions to ponder:

– Of the 60% who do earn a college degree, 65% are female and only 56% are male. (Should males wait before going off to college?)
– Those who attend private colleges graduate at a rate of 74% compared to 62% graduating from public universities. (Are private colleges worth the extra cost?)
– Part-time college students are half as likely to graduate as full-time students. (Is it worth working in order to go to college?)

Predictive analytics can also be used to forecast college success.
– First-year students who do poorly are not the most likely to drop out.
– 40% of those who do drop out have a 3.0 or better GPA, so grades do not predict success.
– Students at selective colleges who struggle with grades do not graduate as often as students with low grades at public universities. Students who get into a selective college, even when earning a 2.5 GPA, still drop out.
– A student’s high school experience is a better predictor of college success than ACT or SAT scores.

All of these indicators suggest getting into a selective school and getting through the freshman year does not mean a student is well on her way to graduating.

So what helps a college student get to graduation? Yes, being a female and, yes, have a good high school background help, but one more factor stands out—being an active learner. Students who participate in class, students who try new experiences like studying abroad or participating in research projects or getting involved in athletics or student activities, and students who cultivate relationships with professors and other students are the most apt to graduate.

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