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December 04, 2010 12:00 PM The Everlasting Graduation Rate?

By Daniel Luzer

Despite talk about getting more students through college, and despite the fact that America is increasingly ethnically diverse, it’s pretty much the same students who are doing well in college.

Earlier this week the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a report about college graduation, and it doesn’t look so great. According to the report, the national bachelor’s degree attainment rate was 63.2 percent. A decade ago it was 62.7 percent.

What’s more, traditional students were more likely to earn college degrees than those who start when they’re older and working, and while about 63 percent of white students earn college degrees within six years of starting their programs, only 41 percent of black students and 42 percent of Hispanic students do so.

As Kevin Carey at Education Sector explains:

All in all, this confirms what we already knew: college works well for the kind of student who has been going to college for a long time: white, middle- and upper-class children of college graduates who enroll full-time directly after leaving high school. As much as people like to say “non-traditional is the new traditional,” there are still many students like that and the large majority of them manage to graduate.
For everyone else, college graduation is dicey.

Back in 2002 NCES determined that 73 percent of all undergraduates were technically nontraditional students. So when are colleges going to figure out how to educate them?

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer