Monthly Archives: September 2009

College Fail? (Who is to blame for low college graduation rates?)

In a recent article in The New York Times, David Leonhardt explores the premises of a new book called, Crossing the Finish Line, in which the book’s authors, economists William Bowen and Michael McPherson (both of whom are former university presidents), focus on what they see as U.S. colleges’ dismal graduation rates.

The percentage of Americans with a college degree continues to hover around thirty percent–close to one third of the population; it’s a percentage that, according to Bowen and Mcpherson, could and should be much higher. Leonhardt readily accepts this premise and makes it clear that it is high time that colleges be “held to account for their failures,” failures that are a product of an environment that, according to Leonhardt “[focuses] on enrollment rather than completion.” In other words, our colleges and universities spend more time wooing prospective students than they do ensuring the success of the students they’ve already coaxed onto their campuses. Continue reading

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