Where can Johnny get his diploma the fastest?

Your chances of earning a bachelor's degree in four years vary depending on the college you attend. Where are your chances best? Enter an ACT composite score below and the table below will list the Michigan schools where your score puts you in the 25th percentile or higher of accepted students. Then look at the differences in graduation rates. Note: Kalamazoo College has asked the National Center for Education Statistics, which manages the data, to change its 4-year grad rate to 74 percent.

Kalamazoo College

University/CollegeTypeACT 25th percentileACT 75th percentile4-year grad rate6-year grad rate
University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)Public28327691
Hope CollegePrivate23296777
Kalamazoo CollegePrivate26306381
Albion CollegePrivate22276272
Calvin CollegePrivate24306077
Michigan State UniversityPublic23285379
Alma CollegePrivate21265067
Aquinas CollegePrivate21265053
Adrian CollegePrivate19264859
Northwood UniversityPrivate20254054
University of Detroit MercyPrivate22283557
Andrews UniversityPrivate20263459
Grand Valley State UniversityPublic21263166
Spring Arbor UniversityPrivate20263152
Michigan Technological UniversityPublic24292966
College for Creative StudiesPrivate19252957
Olivet CollegePrivate18232743
Ferris State UniversityPublic19242553
Western Michigan UniversityPublic19252456
Cornerstone UniversityPrivate20262445
Concordia UniversityPrivate19242357
Central Michigan UniversityPublic20252057
Lawrence Technological UniversityPrivate21282052
University of Michigan (Dearborn)Public21271852
Northern Michigan UniversityPublic19241844
Cleary UniversityPrivate19251720
Lake Superior State UniversityPublic20251639
Oakland UniversityPublic20261543
Siena Heights UniversityPrivate18231543
Eastern Michigan UniversityPublic18241237
University of Michigan (Flint)Public19251037
Wayne State UniversityPublic18261028
Kettering UniversityPrivate24291056
Saginaw Valley State UniversityPublic1824938
Marygrove CollegePrivate1420116

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Thu, 07/17/2014 - 10:36am
To Bridge: I find this table rather interesting, but I'd like to know more. From what group of individuals were the ACT quartiles compiled? E.g., all incoming freshman from 2009 to 2013? Is the time period identical for all 35 schools or does it vary? Are students who transferred to these schools from another post-secondary institution included in the ACT statistics? Similarly, how were the graduation rates calculated? E.g., all incoming freshman from 2001 to 2005? Same time period for all schools? In addition to general curiosity, I'd like to know if I (and others with a similar college path) would appear in these compilations. I graduated (in four years) from one of the schools named above, but I only attended the school for two years after having previously attended another school (not on the list above) for two years. I took the ACT and I graduated from a school above, but I'm guessing that due to my college path I wouldn't appear anywhere in this data. I'm also surprised that more than three out of four wide-eyed "kids" that show up in Ann Arbor leave with a degree from UM in four years. I thought that attrition alone would yield a smaller percentage. Thank you for any details that you can provide.
Mike Wilkinson
Thu, 07/17/2014 - 10:50am
The ACT scores are for the incoming freshmen class of 2012. It is calculated every year. Transfer students would not be included, though they would be included in their original school's freshmen calculation for the year in which they first enrolled. -- Mike Wilkinson, Bridge
Thu, 07/17/2014 - 10:59am
Thank you, Mike. Also, why are several Michigan schools offering baccalaureate degrees not included? Why no Finlandia, Hillsdale, Madonna, and many others? Is this data only available for the 35 schools included in the table?
prospective col...
Thu, 07/17/2014 - 12:24pm
You may want to try collegeresults.org. There, go to the "compare colleges" tab and type in your choices. It seems as though any college that accepts federal aid will appear as options. Finlandia's and Madonna's four year graduation rates of 18.7% and 13% (respectively) were there; however, only Madonna's median ACT composite score (22.5) was listed. Hillsdale, likely because it doesn't accept federal aid, wasn't available. Many other items are addressed (e.g. year-by-year retention rates, transfer-out rates...) for colleges in Michigan and across the country, as well. You can play for hours!
prospective col...
Thu, 07/17/2014 - 12:14pm
As I commented on another article associated with this series, it would be interesting to note which programs within each institution have higher graduation rates. Granted, some degrees will very likely take more than four years (e.g. MSU’s undergraduate teaching degree requires a full year of student teaching). However, in shopping for colleges, some MIAA schools we looked at celebrated their higher graduation rates; yet we found that some programs (or colleges) within the larger universities (that are analogous to the liberal arts degrees earned at MIAA colleges) have similar graduation rates (at, of course, much lower tuition). For example, an administrator at MSU’s James Madison College told me that its four year graduation rate is about 67%. That’s 14% above the general MSU graduation rate; and it’s the same as Hope’s and higher than Kalamazoo’s.
Ken McFarlane
Thu, 07/17/2014 - 12:50pm
The emphasis of graduating in four years is a very misleading. For a student to graduate in four years, they have to have financial support that allows them to go to school full-time. Most students at UM have that advantage. At other schools, Wayne State, for one, many students work full time and go to school part time. Getting your degree in four years has more to do with your family's income than the school you go to.
prospective col...
Thu, 07/17/2014 - 2:06pm
First, as far as I know, this whole discussion revolves around full-time students who expect to graduate in four years. Second, how can you prove which schools have the students who struggle the most economically? Is it by student loans? If so, we have to watch out for some circular reasoning.... Q: Which students struggle the most economically? A: The ones with the greatest number of loans taken out. Q: Why do they have greater loan amounts? A: It's because they're the ones who struggle the most economically. According to Bridge, in 2011 the public university in Michigan with the highest percentage of students relying on loans (80%) with the greatest debt accumulated ($35K) was FSU; however, FSU's on-time graduation rate (25%) was more than double than that of EMU (12%) students who took out fewer loans (68%) in lesser amounts ($25K). I would guess that socioeconomics has more to do with who gets into which school. For example, if a student from a struggling family gets a 34 on her ACT and has a 4.0 GPA, she's likely to be accepted to, and graduate from, UM in four years. In fact, if she's struggling economically and still is able to achieve such marks, UM is likely to make her education relatively cheap. For example, according to collegeresults.org, while the "total price for in-state, on-campus" students at UM is $25K, the "average net price" for students of families earning less than $30K is $5.4K. The point is, of course, the likelihood of students whose families struggle economically achieving such scores and grades. So, again, it may have more to do with who gets into what school: The higher the family income, the more likely a student will be accepted to a school with higher graduation rates. Indeed, if you look at the recently released, top-ten schools (as measured by ACT scores) in the state, the schools that rely merely on geography for enrollment (rather than being magnet schools) were all from affluent areas: #6 Northville HS, #7 Birmingham Seaholm HS, #8 Troy HS, #9 Rochester Adams HS, and #10 Okemos HS. The students from Northville, for example, averaged 25.1 on the ACT. They'll likely be accepted to schools, according to the above calculator, that have higher graduation rates. In fact, the only school, according to the above, a 25 doesn't fall within the middle 50% is UM (and maybe K College). Still, if a student from Detroit Public Schools, despite the odds (since the average DPS ACT composite score was a 16.4), achieves a 36 on her ACT with a 4.0 GPA, she's likely to be accepted to UM and graduate in four years.
J. Strate
Tue, 07/22/2014 - 11:19am
It's difficult to draw conclusions from these limited data. There are undoubtedly many factors that influence graduation rates, both at the school and at the individual level. It's difficult and unfair to compare the performance of schools using a single outcome variable (graduation within four or six years) and a limited number of independent variables. Will that stop people from making such comparisons? No. Perhaps educational researchers have already conducted studies identifying factors responsible for varying graduation rates among schools and individuals. If so, the findings of those studies would provide better guidance on what's happening in Michigan.