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Dropout factories

Lots of people have recommended this Washington Monthly story about colleges with extremely low graduation rates, and now I’m recommending it to you. I’d never given this any thought before, but having read the story, it’s quite clear to me that this is a serious problem, and it’s going to require some thought to figure out the best way to deal with it. Just getting the information out there is a good start, and I hope high school guidance counselors across the country are reading this and steering their kids away from these schools. The “bottom 50” list is here, and unfortunately Texas schools predominate, as eight of them make an appearance:

Jarvis Christian College
Texas College
Texas Southern University
University of Houston, Downtown
Paul Quinn College
Huston-Tillotson University
University of Texas at Brownsville
Sul Ross State University

JCC is in Hawkins, which is north of Tyler, where Texas College is located. Paul Quinn is in Dallas, Huston-Tillotson is in Austin, and Sul Ross is in Alpine. No other state had more than four schools on this dubious list – we’re number one! – so hopefully this will spur some action. Check it out, and see what you think.

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  1. Ron in Houston says:

    As I looked at that list what jumped out at me is that those are schools that get kids from lower down the economic scale who my guess is don’t graduate due to financial pressures.

    I certainly don’t think this is an indictment of the quality of education at these institutions. I suppose the institutions could try to do more to retain their students, but given how the legislature has ignored higher education, I’d imagine they simply don’t have the resources.

  2. Ron – I encourage you to read the linked article, because they take those factors into account. These are schools that perform poorly compared to peer institutions, and more to the point do a lousy job of trying to mitigate the factors you cite, especially compared to them. There are many schools with similar profiles that graduate a much higher percentage of their students, and the difference is in their commitment to their students. It’s a real eye-opener.

  3. Ron in Houston says:


    Thanks – I’ll take a look.

  4. […] Last month I blogged about this Washington Monthly story about colleges with extremely low graduation rates. Here’s a Star-Telegram article about that, which contains some reaction from a couple of the Texas schools named in the original piece. One factor holding down graduation rates is the changing makeup of college students. Once, most lived at four-year schools. But a growing trend is first-generation college students from working-class families who help support relatives while taking classes. […]