How Many Students Drop Out of College?

Only 50% of students graduate college in six years.

Only 50% of students graduate college in six years.

Based on data from the Department of Education, we know that only 50% of students pursuing an undergraduate degree graduate in six years.

It takes the average student 4.45 years to graduate. And for those who don't graduate, 41% of them drop out, while 24% transfer and 35% keep working on their degree.

What can you do to make sure you graduate on time?

    Why Fit is Important

    Graduation rates are heavily dependent on how well a student matches their major and college. Try to avoid chasing after unrealistic majors or choosing a school or major based on how cool you’ll look or how much money you could earn.

    Riding high after being the high school Chemistry Club Vice President, I decided it would be awesome to go into Chemical Engineering. The chicks would love it and it’s a big money earner.

    Unfortunately, I picked Chemical Engineering for the wrong reasons. I loved portions of it, but other stuff was just way above my head and I had little interest in learning about it. I switched majors three years into school. Three years later I had my Computer Science degree and never looked back.

    If I had listened to myself and others I would have seen CompSci as a natural fit for my interests. I would have saved two years of my life and a small fortune in tuition.

    It’s All About You

    Before deciding on a college and major you need to sit down and think long and hard about where you picture your life leading you in the future.

    Some things to think about include:

    • What are some of the hobbies you enjoy today and if desired, can you turn these into a life-long career?
    • What major can you imagine studying for four years? (Take Majors Matcher for a better idea.)
    • Would you excel in a large party school or would you prefer a small private school focused on a few areas of concentration?
    • Would you prefer to live a long way from home, or be relatively close?

    Other Things to Look For

    Besides finding a good fit in your major and college, there are other criteria that have been shown to affect graduation rates.

    First up is the selectivity of the school. According to US Department of Education data, the more selective a school is, the higher the graduation rates. For example, a student attending a school which accepts only 25% of the applications they receive has a 89% chance of graduating within six years.

    On the other hand, a student attending a school which has a 90% acceptance rate only has a 36% chance of graduating within six years. You can easily see how selective a school is on College Factual by navigating to a school and selecting the “Applying” tab.

    Another thing to keep in mind is the type of school you attend will also have an effect on graduation rates. Private schools have the highest graduation rates with public school right behind. For-profit schools have an extremely low graduation rate within six years of just 27% on average.

    With this information in hand, you should be well set to find the right major and college for you that will increase your odds of graduating on time.