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What All Parents Must Ask Before Their Child Choses A College

by Alonzo on January 5, 2012

High school seniors across the country are sweating impending application deadlines.

Their parents? They’re likely sweating how to pay for higher education price tags that can rival small mortgages.

Yet, as parents begin mulling financial aid offers they’re bound to overlook one of the most important questions any parent can ask:

What is the college’s graduation rate? What percentage of students graduate in four years, in six years?

Much is made of the crushing college debt. But imagine be indebted with no college degree to show for it, or having to finance extra tens of thousands of dollars because your child doesn’t finish within four years. This is especially important when you consider the graduation rate for white students starting at four year institutions is only 62.6%. For blacks it’s even worse at 40.5%.

College brochures featuring grass covered quads filled with smiling undergrads may never disclose the school’s graduation rates. College admissions deans delivering their campus pitches rarely disclose them. In fact, this essential statistic can be downright difficult to find. Thankfully parents can turn to The website uses data collected by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

Select a college of interest and provides the school’s first year retention rate as well as four-year, five-year, and six-year graduation rates. also allows you to compare a school’s graduation rates by race and ethnicity. This an important tool for parents seeking to identify those schools that have essentially eliminated the black-white graduation gap.

Take, for instance, the University of Illinois at Chicago. According to, the university graduates black students at an abysmal rate of 29.8%, far below its 51% white graduation rate. Yet, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and University of California at Riverside both serve similar students, but they graduate black students at nearly the same rates as white students. UNC Charlotte graduates 50.1% of both its white and black students. UC Riverside graduates 62.4% of its white students and an even higher 66.9% of its black students.

Clearly, some institutions are superior to others in ensuring students complete their degrees. When selecting the best college for your child, information is power. The more you know the better decisions you can make.

Photo Credit: Roger4336



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