February 20, 2013

The Growing, but Still-Elusive, 4-Year College Degree

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OU OSU Charts

The graduation-rate picture at the main campuses of Oklahoma’s two major universities is a mixed one.

On the one hand, both four-year and six-year graduation rates rose at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University from 2004 to 2011, according to the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System, a system of surveys of schools by the federal government.  That was especially true at OU, whose four-year rate jumped by 75 percent and six-year rate rose by more than 20 percent. OSU’s four-rate also rose sharply, but its six-year rate increased only slightly.

In general, the gaps between four-year and six-year graduation rates at both schools did not narrow significantly over the period. Just over a third of students graduate within the traditional four years. When students take additional semesters to obtain a degree, they often take out more loans to cover tuition and living expenses.

Gary Shutt, director of communications for OSU, said in an email:  “OSU’s top academic priorities are improving retention and graduation rates. Typically, the university loses its largest percentage of students in the first year.” As a result, OSU has created a new learning center, upgraded its math learning center and expanded a residential program where students with the same interests and majors come together.

“We encourage and want students to graduate as soon as possible, but for various reasons, more and more students are taking longer than four years to graduate,” Shutt said.

(Graduation rates calculated for full-time, first time students)

Source: IPEDS (The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System).