We have seen that the graduation rates of our 4-year public colleges correlate well with the SAT scores of their freshmen. Let’s return to that subject with some more recent data.
Here, then, for our 4-year public colleges, are the 4-year graduation rates for that 2013 cohort plotted v. those median SAT scores (math + verbal).
The correlation is solid: Entering SAT scores, on average, are an excellent predictor of that graduation rate (recalling, always, that the correlation does not prove causation).
Three schools considerably outperform the fitted line: James Madison and Longwood at +11 and VMI at +7. The three largest underperformers are Old Dominion (-13), George Mason (-11), and VCU (-7).
Turning to the five-year rates:
The outperformers on the five-year rate are JMU (+12 from the fitted line), Longwood (+10), VMI (+7), and Radford (+4). The underperformers are Old Dominion (-9), Norfolk State (-8), Wm. & Mary and George Mason (-5), and Mary Washington (-4).
We might think that outstanding performance at the 4-year level would hinder performance at five years; JMU, VMI, and Longwood (and, to a lesser extent, Radford) all belie that notion.
The five-year rates are remarkably higher, even at THE University and W&M, with the increases generally larger at the schools with the lower rates.
Remember: The cohort data are for full time, first-time freshmen. We might think that these rates would not reflect the larger part-time populations at the urban universities; we might be wrong in that.
BTW: Looking just at graduation rates, we see there is one (private) school that beat even THE University (on the 4-year rate, UVa, 88%; W&L, 93%).
We could argue endlessly about the causes for these correlations and differences. The better question, I suggest, is what all these schools might do to improve their graduation rates: On average, 45% of those full time, first-time freshmen entering 4-year public colleges did not graduate in four years; 28% did not make it in six.
In terms of people: About 14,450 (“about” because of the roundoff of the rate data) of 32,112 first-time, full time freshmen entering 4-year public universities in the fall of 2012 did not graduate in four years; about 8,990 did not make it in six years.