Not the Whole Picture on College Graduates

The graduation data cited in the Jan. 9 Metro article “Some local colleges have few grads” measure only first-year, full-time students, ignoring a vast number of individuals because they don’t conform to this very narrow definition of a college student. In fact, the graduation rate cited for our Northern Virginia campus accounts for only 14 percent of students. Basing any sort of ranking on incomplete data distorts the truth.

This article, however, did draw attention to an important point: Now is the time to reexamine the criteria used to measure graduation rates at all institutions — including community colleges, historically black colleges and universities and for-profit institutions — that serve our nation’s non-traditional students. These students — including returning veterans, first-generation students and working parents — make up more than 70 percent of today’s student population.


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