The Nationwide Racial Gap in College Graduation Rates

Department of Education data compiled by the National Collegiate Athletic Association shows graduation rates for all students who entered college in 2013 and earned their degrees within six years at the same NCAA Division I institution at which they entered in 2013. These colleges and universities are among the largest in the nation. For all students who enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs at these four-year institutions in 2013, 67 percent earned their degrees at the same institution by 2019.

But there were wide discrepancies when we compare the graduation rates of African Americans with those of other racial and ethnic groups. In fact, Blacks had the lowest graduation rate of any racial or ethnic group. Only 48 percent of all Black students who entered bachelor’s degree programs at four-year institutions in 2013 earned their degree within six years.

The Black student college graduation rate of 48 percent was 22 percentage points lower than the rate for Whites and 31 percentage points below the rate for Asian Americans. The Black student graduation rate trailed the rates for Hispanics by 13 percentage points.

For Black and African American students there was a 10 percentage point gap in graduation rates in favor of women. Some 52 percent of Black women who entered college in the fall of 2013 earned their degrees within six years at the same institution compared to 42 percent of Black men.

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  1. This article is just another indication that there is much work to be done by committed institutions that want to achieve equity within minority student populations. African American college students continue to lag behind their white counterparts in 4 year degree attainment.

    • “much work to be done by committed institutions”?

      When the performance disparities are as great as they are, why would you put the onus on institutions to reduce them? The fault, if there is one, is mainly our own. We are unable to match what others are doing.

      However, there is no Rule written in the heavens that says all groups must achieve equally at all times. If in our generation, the academic capabilities just are not there, there is no solution to the “problem.” Some would say there is no problem either.

      • Your response is intriguing. It actually resonated but I halted at accepting it because it flies in the face of so much of what we are taught and teach. Can you explain further?

      • The problem is looking for a quick fix to a complex problem by replacing merit with magical special treatment in one area: admissions. Lowing the bar for some will reduce their ability to achieve excellence and to expect special treatment without merit. Raising the bar for others is simply unfair. The “solution” has nothing to do with the institutions, but the high-school and community preparation, coaching, mentoring, and assistance underperforming groups receive in a more uniform fashion. (More “Asian” parents would be helpful too.)

        If you want a brain drain country that looks diverse on paper, then double-down on attribute points rather than on merit-based admissions. Lowering standards is how to destroy academia.

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