Tracking Students to 200 Percent of Normal Time: Effect on Institutional Graduation Rates
A majority of college graduates take longer to earn a degree than what is commonly thought to be the “normal” amount of time it should take—4 years for a bachelor’s degree and 2 years for an associate’s degree. For example, among college graduates who earned a bachelor’s degree in 1999–2000, about two-fifths (39 percent) had completed the degree in 4 years (Bradburn et al. 2003). A majority (72 percent) of this cohort, however, had completed a bachelor’s degree within 6 years, while 14 percent took 6–10 years and the remaining 14 percent took more than 10 years. Similarly, among a survey of students who started college in 1995–96 with the goal of completing an associate’s degree, less than one-fifth (17 percent) completed the degree in 2 years, 43 percent took 2–3 years, and another 40 percent took 3–6 years.
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