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Higher Education Confronts Its Own Achievement Gap

By Dylan Scott

More students are enrolling in the nation’s higher education institutions, but many of them never earn a degree. How policymakers can make higher education more efficient and more responsive to its students’ needs — and thereby increasing the number of students who complete their education — was the topic of discussion at a policy summit held by National Journal and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Thursday.

The summit’s centerpiece was a report by Complete College America, compiled from data from universities, community colleges and other institutions in 33 states. In total, the data reflects more than 10 million students. National projections are based on the medians in each category.

Its most important finding was this: 75 percent of the higher education population is so-called “non-traditional” students. They commute to class, have families, work while they go to school — usually a combination of the above.

Another finding: Students, both full-time and part-time, in all levels of education, many never receive a degree. Less than 30 percent of full-time students seeking a one-year vocational certificate receive one in two years. That numbers drops by half for part-time students. The same pattern follows for those pursuing two-year associate’s degrees (19 percent of full-time students finish in four years; 8 percent of part-time students do) and four-year bachelor’s degrees (61 percent of full-time students complete in eight years; 24 percent of part-time students do).

Continued at: http://www.governing.com/blogs/view/Higher-Education-Confronts-Its-Own-Achievement-Gap.html

Read the report: http://www.completecollege.org/docs/Time_Is_the_Enemy.pdf

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