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Augusta Tech leads local college graduation rates


Thursday, March 15, 2012 11:26 PM
Last updated Friday, March 16, 2012 2:15 AM
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Most local colleges and universities are having problems graduating their first-time full-time students on time, according to a national database released by a renowned educational news service.

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Instructor John Tucciarone (right) helps students Richard Snowden and Theresa Hamm build circuits at Augusta Technical College, whose graduation rate ranked high among its peers.  CHRIS THELEN/STAFF
Instructor John Tucciarone (right) helps students Richard Snowden and Theresa Hamm build circuits at Augusta Technical College, whose graduation rate ranked high among its peers.

Augusta Technical College is the only local institution to place high among its peer group, ranking 11th out of 40 two-year colleges in Georgia with 35.9 percent of these students graduating in two years and 41.9 percent in three.

Other colleges did not fare as well. Augusta State University placed lower, with 6.9 percent of students graduating in four years and 24.5 percent in six, ranking it 17 out of 25 four-year colleges in Georgia.

“We’re always working on the graduation rate because it’s the basis of what we’re trying to do – graduate people so they can go to work,” said Augusta Tech President Terry Elam.

The database shows 24 percent of students in Georgia graduating on time from four-year public universities, ranking the state 30th in the country.

South Carolina fared better, ranking 17th in the country by graduating 38.8 percent of students in four years.

The Chronicle of Higher Education partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create the database, whose officials tout it as producing tangible information about America’s schools of higher education.

“Until the American public and legislative policy makers have a better grasp of the data in terms of who graduates, what are the numbers looking like regionally, locally, nationally, it’s hard to come up with solutions when you’re not really sure of the full picture,” said Amy Alexander, the editorial promotions manager for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The data only includes first-time, full-time students because the U.S. government doesn’t track part-time and transfer students, who often account for a large percentage of a school’s enrollment.

ASU director of institutional research and coordinator of student retention Mary Filpus-Luyckx said the low graduation rate at her school could be because of the high number of working students balancing families and studies along with a large population of students accepted who don’t meet admission standards.

To address the problem, the school is developing a strategic plan to improve academic achievement and is working with state leaders in Gov. Nathan Deal’s Complete College Georgia initiative.

“We are very concerned with our graduation rate, and that’s why it’s part of our strategic plan,” Filpus-Luyckx said.

Georgia is part of the Complete College America program that works with legislators and educators to increase college graduates. The state schools are required to submit improvement plans for their campuses to add 250,000 graduates by 2020.

“To have a successful future in Georgia, and remain competitive nationwide and globally, we have to have an educated workforce, and that means we need to do a better job getting people into college, make sure they receive a high-quality education and then graduate them,” Deal said in a news release.

Paine College was 21st out of 29 four-year private institutions in Georgia with 9.9 percent of students graduating in four years and 26.2 percent in six.

Paine Provost Marcus Tillery declined comment about the college’s graduation trends.

In South Carolina, Aiken Technical College graduated 6.5 percent of students on time and 14.2 percent in three years.

It ranked 8th out of 20 two-year public colleges in the state.

University of South Carolina Aiken was near the bottom of four-year colleges in the state, coming in 11th out of 12 with 19.4 percent graduating in four years and 38 percent in six.

According to a statement from the university, the school has been working to increase its six-year graduation rate and reached 42 percent in 2011, which was not included in the database.

The school is also evaluating its admission process to “better predict the ability and motivation of prospective students to succeed in college,” according to the statement.

Elam said graduation rates are important for student success but may soon also have a financial impact as the state is considering awarding funding based on performance.

Even though the school ranked high among its peers, he said work is never done.

“Are we happy with our (graduation rate)?” he asked. “No. We’re happy with our rank, but we want to improve it.”


Information on graduation rates at Augusta area colleges, according to a database by The Chronicle of Higher Education:

College150% time Grad. rate100% time Grad rateStudent aid*Pell Grants**
Augusta State University24.5%6.9%$4,77840.5%
Augusta Technical College41.9%35.8%$4,75260.6%
Paine College26.2%9.9%$15,89775.2%
Aiken Technical College14.2%6.5%$1,71550.5%
USC Aiken38.0%19.4%$5,82036.0%

* denotes per recipient; ** denotes students on Pell Grants


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countyman 03/16/12 - 01:36 am
The stats don't take into

The stats don't take into account the number of transfers.. Tons of more students transfer from ASU compared to the other four... It's similar to saying more men are in prison than in college.. The age when people attend college is 18-24, and prison has men from the age of 18 to 65...

Riverman1 03/16/12 - 04:25 am
"The state schools are

"The state schools are required to submit improvement plans for their campuses to add 250,000 graduates by 2020."

The problem is we are pushing everyone to go to college when only about 10% of the population should. Students end up with watered down, worthless degrees and a huge debt. Let the government get involved loaning money and see what happens?

But tech schools are telling you something. They teach people to DO SOMETHING that will pay them well. We have to get away from letting academia tell us everyone should go to college.

Gamecocks5 03/16/12 - 09:58 am
Agreed riverman. I

Agreed riverman. I experienced this same thing with my education. Went to college to play baseball, about 5.5 years in school, accumulated debt and now cannot find a job in the field I went to school for. Probably happens more than we really know.

MadeinAmerica 03/16/12 - 10:05 am
ASU is actually LAST in 4-yr

ASU is actually LAST in 4-yr and 6-yr graduation rates for Regional 4-Yr Universities (very similar rates as Fort Valley State). ASU has also dropped this past year from a 6-Yr rate of 24.5 to 22.2%. Meanwhile some schools are looking at adding accelerated 3-yr degree programs! ASU graduating 7% of their students in 4 years is quite bad. No wonder they are being "consolidated" with GHSU.

Riverman1 03/16/12 - 10:13 am
Taking up for ASU, I think

Taking up for ASU, I think commuter schools always have lower 4-6 year graduation rates.

But back to this whole concept of putting even more people in college, it's flat out immoral to ruin kids with so much debt they will never get even. Giving them worthless degrees is criminal. We need to start thinking differently and start by reexamining this goal to add 250,000 students....unless they are tech school students.

Dr_Evil 03/16/12 - 04:26 pm
This is what happens when the

This is what happens when the government "throws" money at people in the form of "grants" and then provides "unsubsidized" loans for the "less fortunate". Just another "redistribution" scheme that encourages abuse and cheapens a degree.

MD2013 09/02/12 - 05:12 pm
What is MCG's graduation

What is MCG's graduation rate? :)

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