Interesting Information for Advising Students

I was poking around looking for some statistics on some stuff for my bestest person the other day to help her out on a project she’s involved with, and I came across this and was completely derailed.

From the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education:

Amherst College, the small liberal arts college in western Massachusetts, now has a black student graduation rate of 94 percent, the second highest in the nation. Williams College, Wellesley College, and Princeton University also post a black student graduation rate of 94 percent. Four other highly ranked colleges and universities in the United States posted a black student graduation rate of 90 percent or above. They are Brown University, Washington University, Stanford University, and Yale University.

Twelve other high-ranking institutions have a black student graduation of 86 percent or above. They are Dartmouth College, Columbia University, Duke University, Hamilton College, Northwestern University, Rice University, Smith College, Swarthmore College, the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania,Wake Forest University, and Wesleyan University…

Among the nation’s colleges and universities that are commonly rated as selective, the lowest black student graduation rate occurs at Carleton College in Minnesota. Currently only 66 percent of the black freshmen who enroll at Carleton College go on to graduate. Among the high-ranking universities, the lowest black student graduation rate is at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. But the number of black students at Carnegie Mellon is not large. The curriculum at Carnegie Mellon is heavily directed toward science. This is probably a factor in the relatively low graduation rate of black students.

Far more disturbing is the poor black student graduation rate at the academically selective University of Michigan. This is a huge state university of 40,000 students. And performance there is a national bellwether. Only 68 percent of entering black students at the University of Michigan go on to graduate. Currently there are nearly 1,900 black students at the University of Michigan, the largest black enrollment of any high-ranking college or university. If these black students graduate at the same rate as have their peers in the recent past, about 600 of them will fail to earn their bachelor’s degree.

I’m definitely saving this report on my desktop at school so it is ready at hand for advising questions; I’ve had a lot of students interested in Michigan over the last five years or so; same with Carleton. I wonder if this data would have affected their decision at all.

Even if you don’t plan on using it for those purposes be sure to check out this section:

Explaining the Differences in Black Student Graduation Rates

Why are black graduation rates very strong at some high-ranking institutions and considerably weaker at other top-ranked schools? Here are a few possible explanations:

Some of the ideas put forth as explanations were things I suspected, but had nothing beyond that to support my guesses. Some of the explanations, though–especially when they tied them to particular schools–and comparisons were really surprising to me.

And yes, it’s a couple of years old, but I doubt any of these institutions’ numbers could turn around in a major way one direction or the other in a mere year or two. Heck, it takes most schools a year just to decide who’s on the committee…