Washington ranks in top 10 for college graduation rates nationwide - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Washington ranks in top 10 for college graduation rates nationwide

SPOKANE, Wash. - More than 40 percent of Washington university students fail to earn a degree from college within six years according to a new report partially funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Still, Washington fares better than most landing in the top ten for state graduation rates as ranked by the report "Diplomas and Dropouts: Which Colleges Actually Graduate Their Students (and Which Don't)."

Written by the American Enterprise Institute the report highlights three eastern Washington colleges in the top five for graduation rates in the state including two Spokane institutions. Gonzaga University comes in second in the state with an 80% graduation rate, trailing only Walla Walla's Whitman College which had an 86% graduation rate. Whitworth University in north Spokane placed 5th in Washington with a 74% graduation rate with the University of Washington and University of Puget Sound rounding out the top 5.

Speaking to The Seattle Times, study co-author Kevin Carey highlighted the findings for Washington saying the state is dealing with lost opportunities in higher education. "When we talk about higher education, we usually only talk about access. We don't talk nearly as much about success", Carey said pointing out that a greater emphasis is placed on getting students into college than to supporting them once they're there. Carey says the most important thing colleges can do is pay attention to how well students are performing and intervene quickly when they appear to be struggling.

Whitman College is one of the schools that has bought into that theory putting greater emphasis on helping students stay on track to graduate. Whitman President George Bridges tells The Seattle Times that the school has "put significant resources into student services and support. When students experience difficulties, they can receive the type of support that only a small college can offer."

In Idaho the highest graduation rate belongs to the private College of Idaho based in Caldwell. The small liberal arts college had a 59% graduation rate based on the report's finding. That's compared to 53% at the University of Idaho in Moscow, which had the next highest graduation rate in the state.

The report's conclusions are based on official graduation rates from the U.S. Department of Education. It "identifies the top and bottom performers among institutions that have similar levels of admissions selectivity as reported in the widely used Barron's Profiles of American Colleges."

Washington Colleges & Universities:

Whitman College  86%
Gonzaga University  80%
Univ. of Puget Sound  76%
Univ. of Washington  75%
Whitworth University  74%
Seattle University  68%
WWU  67%
Seattle Pacific University  66%
Pacific Lutheran University    66% 
WSU  63%
Evergreen State College  58%
CWU  55%
Walla Walla University  53%
EWU  47%
Northwest University  45%
Saint Martin's University  41%
DeVry University, Wash.  29%
Heritage University  17%

Idaho Colleges & Universities:

College of Idaho    59%
University of Idaho  53%
Northwest Nazarene Univ.    52%
Idaho State University  31%
Boise State University  28%
Lewis-Clark State College   27% 

Source: American Enterprise Institute

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