Next stop for seniors? Let the data guide you

Last Updated on March 24, 2021 by Real College Matters

by Leigh Moore

Hi, folks–

The problem with the college search and admissions processes is not a shortage of information; there’s way too much out there for anyone to process. As such, I take seriously the curation of data and I work to put what I think is most valuable in front of students and families, especially when time is tight.

Because we have our own senior this year, I’m viscerally aware of the need for good intel. Spring break approaches quickly. Our family discussions are less of the, “So what is your final choice, sweetie?” variety and heavier on, “Uh..so,, where exactly are we even gonna look?” It would be fun, like one of those choose-your-own-adventure-books from the 70s, but I’m pretty sure those books were three or four bucks and the opportunity cost of making a disappointing choice within was maybe five minutes, tops.

Having spent the past couple of months deep in data, and the last week laser-focused on the concept of a customized data set for our family–and hopefully yours soon– one metric emerges as a top-five consideration for your family discussions: graduation rates.

I doubt you need a math degree to track me here: if it takes a student five years to graduate from an $50,000 institution, an additional $50,000 needs to be available. If it takes six years–then, yep–100K. Look at the rates. Ask questions if they are of concern. Not all programs are built for a four-year turnaround; others are.

Hot of the IPEDS 2019 reported data today, a visualization showing-four–five-and six-year grad rates. Schools report eight-year grad rates as well, but let’s cross that bridge later and only if we have to.

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