AR college graduation numbers down compared to national average

AR college graduation numbers down compared to national average

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A report released on Thursday shows the graduation rate in the state is relatively low compared to the national average.

According to a report, the Arkansas graduation rate is 39% compared to the national average of 57%. This rate looks specifically at 4-year public universities and students taking up to six years to graduate.

Dr. Rick Stripling, ASU Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, said these numbers may not reflect college retention rates.

"You know there is a lot of other data that is thrown in there to those," Stripling said. "Different states have different mix of four year schools and different types."

Stripling said the university is proud of its numbers.

"We've actually conferred over 15,000 degrees and so our graduation rate, we are comfortable with moving," Stripling said. "We also want to improve it."

He said university officials are always looking at retention rates and what they can do better to keep students in school.

One thing they've found is students who live on campus or close to campus stay in school.

"Help improve our residential living that you see two to three points increase in the retention of students who live on campus," Stripling said.

Arkansas State also provides services to help those who drop out come back to school

"Their purpose and their goal is a lot different, and sometimes there are some that just want to come back for a brief education that's not necessarily conferring a degree," Stripling said.

But he said he does recognize many don't make it to graduation day.

"Sometimes you just have the shift that the timing isn't right, and students decide to drop out and come back," Stripling said. "We work with students as they do that and need to come back in."

Many non-traditional students said money and family were big reasons they had to drop out the first time, and current students agree that is what forces students to quit.

"Mainly because they can't afford it, tuition is very expensive and sometimes you don't get enough scholarship money and a lot of people don't want to take out a loan," junior Carly Bradley said.

"I think sometimes financial need is a big concern," Bethany Gallimore said. "For me, I'm on an academic scholarship so if my GPA were to drop, I wouldn't be able to attend school simply because I couldn't afford it."

"A lot of people drop out because they have more important things to do like work, or a family, or tend to their children," senior Breanna Taylor said.

No matter the reason, Stripling said just because students drop out doesn't mean they can't come back, and ASU welcomes them.

"They bring that world class knowledge that we feel is really a compliment what the students benefit from here," Stripling said.

Click here to view the education report released by Forward Arkansas.

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