Enrichment Education

Average college student needs more than five years to graduate: report

An average college student does not enroll in enough classes to graduate in four years, and only half of full-time students earned 24 or more credit hours in their first year.
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  • The Postsecondary Data Partnership (PDP) Insights Report focused on the ratio of credits earned to credits attempted and the credit accumulation rate, which measures a student’s “timely accumulation” of credits.

  • During their first year in college, students attempt on average fewer than 27 hours while earning 22 credits. 

  • The average student earns nine hours for every 12 hours attempted.

The average college student does not earn enough course credits per semester to graduate in five years, according to a new report.  

A report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found an average student does not even attempt enough credit hours to put them on track to graduate in four years, and only half of full-time students earned 24 or more credit hours in their first year.  

The Postsecondary Data Partnership (PDP) Insights Report focused on the ratio of credits earned to credits attempted and the credit accumulation rate, which measures a student’s “timely accumulation” of credits.    

“This is the first ever report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center that uses actual credit information and focuses on early momentum metrics such as first-year credit accumulation rate and credit completion ratio,” said Afet Dundar, Director of Equity in Research and Analytics at the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, said in a media release. 

During their first year in college, students attempt on average fewer than 27 hours while earning 22 credits. And the average student earns nine hours for every 12 hours attempted.  

But the report notes this rate varies significantly by race, enrollment intensity, college readiness, type of programs and what type of institution a student attended. 

The highest credit completion ratios were held by non-resident, Asian and White students; each group completed nearly 80 percent or more of the course credits they enrolled in. 

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“College and university administrators and practitioners can use these metrics to design effective and timely support for those students who need it the most, while students are still enrolled,” Dundar said. 

“Otherwise, students will continue to fall behind academically and financially by not completing college as soon as possible.”