The character Bluto in the movie Animal House was famous for saying “Seven years of college down the drain”. This was on the heels of Dean Wormer’s pronouncement of his stellar grade point of 0.0. Given this performance, Bluto would not have graduated anyway. Thus, he would not have fallen into the statistics of those who successfully graduate college.

Graduation rates are somewhat controversial and their importance is widely disputed. Graduation rates are computed using a number of time intervals based on a cohort size as adjusted for various factors. The two most common are the 100% and 150% graduation rate metrics. The 100% rate is based on the student graduating in four years (for a four year institution). The 150% graduation rate assumes the student graduates in six years. This allows for time off for various reasons.

Services such as U.S. News and World Report rank schools by their graduation rate and consider it a factor in their overall rankings. Graduation rates can fluctuate pretty substantially especially over a long period of time. This was what I uncovered as I looked for schools that were achieving growth in their graduation rates. See my video blog below for the approach and findings. Thus, it would seem that we would want to look at consistency of graduation rates over a period of time. 

Only 39 colleges have achieved 90+% graduation rates using the 150% benchmark for each of the past three years. Not a single institution has managed to achieve 90+% graduation rates based on the 100% benchmark for each of the past three years. For example, Carleton College, the leader of the U.S. News graduation rate leaderboard, had a graduation rate of 91% based on the four year graduation, but this was up from the previous two years where the rate was under 90%. Further, Carleton College while still performing admirably wouldn’t crack the top 10 for the six year graduation rate metric. 



You can download a spreadsheet of all four year institutions and their 100% and 150% graduation rates for the past three years. The spreadsheet will also give you the cohort values and the calculated graduation rates and graduation growth rates for one and two years. Several filters have been applied to find the highest performers.

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