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Original article URL: http://bridgemi.com/2014/07/where-can-johnny-get-his-diploma-the-fastest/

Talent & education

Where can Johnny get his diploma the fastest?

Your chances of earning a bachelor’s degree in four years vary depending on the college you attend. Where are your chances best? Enter an ACT composite score above and the table below will list the Michigan schools where your score puts you in the 25th percentile or higher of accepted students. Then look at the differences in graduation rates. Note: Kalamazoo College has asked the National Center for Education Statistics, which manages the data, to change its 4-year grad rate to 74 percent.

Kalamazoo College

University/College Type ACT 25th percentile ACT 75th percentile 4-year grad rate 6-year grad rate
University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Public 28 32 76 91
Hope College Private 23 29 67 77
Kalamazoo College Private 26 30 63 81
Albion College Private 22 27 62 72
Calvin College Private 24 30 60 77
Michigan State University Public 23 28 53 79
Alma College Private 21 26 50 67
Aquinas College Private 21 26 50 53
Adrian College Private 19 26 48 59
Northwood University Private 20 25 40 54
University of Detroit Mercy Private 22 28 35 57
Andrews University Private 20 26 34 59
Grand Valley State University Public 21 26 31 66
Spring Arbor University Private 20 26 31 52
Michigan Technological University Public 24 29 29 66
College for Creative Studies Private 19 25 29 57
Olivet College Private 18 23 27 43
Ferris State University Public 19 24 25 53
Western Michigan University Public 19 25 24 56
Cornerstone University Private 20 26 24 45
Concordia University Private 19 24 23 57
Central Michigan University Public 20 25 20 57
Lawrence Technological University Private 21 28 20 52
University of Michigan (Dearborn) Public 21 27 18 52
Northern Michigan University Public 19 24 18 44
Cleary University Private 19 25 17 20
Lake Superior State University Public 20 25 16 39
Oakland University Public 20 26 15 43
Siena Heights University Private 18 23 15 43
Eastern Michigan University Public 18 24 12 37
University of Michigan (Flint) Public 19 25 10 37
Wayne State University Public 18 26 10 28
Kettering University Private 24 29 10 56
Saginaw Valley State University Public 18 24 9 38
Marygrove College Private 14 20 1 16

8 comments from Bridge readers.Add mine!

  1. Johnny

    To Bridge: I find this table rather interesting, but I’d like to know more. From what group of individuals were the ACT quartiles compiled? E.g., all incoming freshman from 2009 to 2013? Is the time period identical for all 35 schools or does it vary? Are students who transferred to these schools from another post-secondary institution included in the ACT statistics? Similarly, how were the graduation rates calculated? E.g., all incoming freshman from 2001 to 2005? Same time period for all schools? In addition to general curiosity, I’d like to know if I (and others with a similar college path) would appear in these compilations. I graduated (in four years) from one of the schools named above, but I only attended the school for two years after having previously attended another school (not on the list above) for two years. I took the ACT and I graduated from a school above, but I’m guessing that due to my college path I wouldn’t appear anywhere in this data. I’m also surprised that more than three out of four wide-eyed “kids” that show up in Ann Arbor leave with a degree from UM in four years. I thought that attrition alone would yield a smaller percentage. Thank you for any details that you can provide.

    1. Mike Wilkinson

      The ACT scores are for the incoming freshmen class of 2012. It is calculated every year. Transfer students would not be included, though they would be included in their original school’s freshmen calculation for the year in which they first enrolled. — Mike Wilkinson, Bridge

      1. Johnny

        Thank you, Mike. Also, why are several Michigan schools offering baccalaureate degrees not included? Why no Finlandia, Hillsdale, Madonna, and many others? Is this data only available for the 35 schools included in the table?

        1. prospective college parent

          You may want to try collegeresults.org. There, go to the “compare colleges” tab and type in your choices.

          It seems as though any college that accepts federal aid will appear as options. Finlandia’s and Madonna’s four year graduation rates of 18.7% and 13% (respectively) were there; however, only Madonna’s median ACT composite score (22.5) was listed. Hillsdale, likely because it doesn’t accept federal aid, wasn’t available.

          Many other items are addressed (e.g. year-by-year retention rates, transfer-out rates…) for colleges in Michigan and across the country, as well.

          You can play for hours!

  2. prospective college parent

    As I commented on another article associated with this series, it would be interesting to note which programs within each institution have higher graduation rates.

    Granted, some degrees will very likely take more than four years (e.g. MSU’s undergraduate teaching degree requires a full year of student teaching). However, in shopping for colleges, some MIAA schools we looked at celebrated their higher graduation rates; yet we found that some programs (or colleges) within the larger universities (that are analogous to the liberal arts degrees earned at MIAA colleges) have similar graduation rates (at, of course, much lower tuition).

    For example, an administrator at MSU’s James Madison College told me that its four year graduation rate is about 67%. That’s 14% above the general MSU graduation rate; and it’s the same as Hope’s and higher than Kalamazoo’s.

  3. Ken McFarlane

    The emphasis of graduating in four years is a very misleading. For a student to graduate in four years, they have to have financial support that allows them to go to school full-time. Most students at UM have that advantage. At other schools, Wayne State, for one, many students work full time and go to school part time. Getting your degree in four years has more to do with your family’s income than the school you go to.

    1. prospective college parent

      First, as far as I know, this whole discussion revolves around full-time students who expect to graduate in four years.

      Second, how can you prove which schools have the students who struggle the most economically?

      Is it by student loans? If so, we have to watch out for some circular reasoning….

      Q: Which students struggle the most economically?
      A: The ones with the greatest number of loans taken out.
      Q: Why do they have greater loan amounts?
      A: It’s because they’re the ones who struggle the most economically.

      According to Bridge, in 2011 the public university in Michigan with the highest percentage of students relying on loans (80%) with the greatest debt accumulated ($35K) was FSU; however, FSU’s on-time graduation rate (25%) was more than double than that of EMU (12%) students who took out fewer loans (68%) in lesser amounts ($25K).

      I would guess that socioeconomics has more to do with who gets into which school. For example, if a student from a struggling family gets a 34 on her ACT and has a 4.0 GPA, she’s likely to be accepted to, and graduate from, UM in four years. In fact, if she’s struggling economically and still is able to achieve such marks, UM is likely to make her education relatively cheap. For example, according to collegeresults.org, while the “total price for in-state, on-campus” students at UM is $25K, the “average net price” for students of families earning less than $30K is $5.4K.

      The point is, of course, the likelihood of students whose families struggle economically achieving such scores and grades. So, again, it may have more to do with who gets into what school: The higher the family income, the more likely a student will be accepted to a school with higher graduation rates.

      Indeed, if you look at the recently released, top-ten schools (as measured by ACT scores) in the state, the schools that rely merely on geography for enrollment (rather than being magnet schools) were all from affluent areas: #6 Northville HS, #7 Birmingham Seaholm HS, #8 Troy HS, #9 Rochester Adams HS, and #10 Okemos HS.

      The students from Northville, for example, averaged 25.1 on the ACT. They’ll likely be accepted to schools, according to the above calculator, that have higher graduation rates. In fact, the only school, according to the above, a 25 doesn’t fall within the middle 50% is UM (and maybe K College). Still, if a student from Detroit Public Schools, despite the odds (since the average DPS ACT composite score was a 16.4), achieves a 36 on her ACT with a 4.0 GPA, she’s likely to be accepted to UM and graduate in four years.

  4. J. Strate

    It’s difficult to draw conclusions from these limited data. There are undoubtedly many factors that influence graduation rates, both at the school and at the individual level. It’s difficult and unfair to compare the performance of schools using a single outcome variable (graduation within four or six years) and a limited number of independent variables. Will that stop people from making such comparisons? No. Perhaps educational researchers have already conducted studies identifying factors responsible for varying graduation rates among schools and individuals. If so, the findings of those studies would provide better guidance on what’s happening in Michigan.

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