Keys to college students' success often overlooked
An early visit to college, clubs and other activities help students graduate earlier than others, study finds. A sense of belonging also helps, researchers say.
By Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times
Colleges should examine a wider set of social, economic and personal characteristics to determine how they can help students remain in school and graduate, a new report has found.
Using information from a national survey of college freshmen in public and private institutions as well as graduation data, the report found, for example, that students who visit a college before enrolling, participate in clubs and other activities and those who have used the Internet for research and homework are more likely to complete a degree earlier than others. The costs of attending a college and the institution's size also contribute to students' success, the report found.
Overall graduation rates are up from a decade ago — nearly four in 10 students (39%) graduate in four years today compared to 36% of students who started college in 1994, the report showed. But 56.4% of students now take five years to graduate.
Disparities in graduation rates by ethnicity and gender persist and the gaps are increasing, according to the report. First-generation students are especially at a disadvantage: Only 27.4% of these students earn a degree after four years compared to 42% of students whose parents attended college.