There are graduation rates

And there are graduation rates.  Why adult and continuing education programs, which serve a lot of transfer students (among other clientelle), may appear less successful than they really are. reminds us that not all graduate rates are created equal.

Graduation rates give incomplete picture
When it comes to measuring schools by graduation rates, students like Buddy Pearson are a bit of a problem.

It's going to take Pearson, of Cuba, Mo., more than five years to complete his education at Missouri University of Science and Technology, where he's doing no favors for the school's four-year graduation rate.

"I've been having a good time while I'm here. I'm really not in that much of a hurry," Pearson said.
But he's working toward a double major in civil and architectural engineering, illustrating one of the hazards of trying to measure a school based on graduation rates.
Education experts argue that some schools are essentially penalized in ratings because of their student mix.

In 2009, Missouri S&T's four-year graduation rate stood at 25 percent. But its six-year rate is a much stronger 63 percent, reflecting the extra time it can take to finish engineering degrees, which often include lengthy internships like Pearson's recent eight-month stint with a firm in Kansas City.
Further, the graduation rates collected by the federal government only track freshmen who start and finish at the same school. Transfers are left out.

That's painful for schools like the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Missouri Baptist University, where transfers make up the majority of each year's new students.


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