Diplomas and Dropouts: Which Colleges Actually Graduate Their Students (and Which Don’t)


American Enterprise Institute

Based on data from the U.S. Department of Education, this report examines the graduation rates of more than 1,300 American colleges and universities and finds that, as a whole, higher education institutions enroll many more students than they graduate.

The report divides schools into six categories based on their admissions selectivity for incoming students, which ranged from “noncompetitive” to “most competitive.” Generally, graduation rates rose as the competitiveness of the schools increased. The average graduation rate for schools classified as noncompetitive was 35 percent, while the rate for the most competitive schools was 88 percent.

More significantly, graduation rates within each range of selectivity also varied widely. For instance, there was a 27 percent gap in the average graduation rates for schools in the top third and bottom third of those colleges and universities whose selectivity was designated “competitive” – the largest category. Free, 80 pages. (202) 862-5800,



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