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New Report Gives Vermont High Marks For College Graduation Rates

VSAC has been studying the educational attainment of Vermont students who graduated high school in 2012.
A new study from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows in 2008-2014, 75 percent of Vermont college students finished their degree somewhere within six years, which is higher than the national average of 63 percent.

Lots of Vermont college students graduate from the four-year public college where they started. That’s according to a new report from a national research group. But the study also shows that students who do transfer out of Vermont colleges tend to leave the state altogether.

The report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center tracks students from 2008-2014. Clearinghouse Executive Director Doug Shapiro says Vermont excels in college graduation rates for four-year public institutions.

Audio for this story will be posted at approximately 11 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 27

 “Three-quarters of those students finished a degree somewhere within six years and that’s remarkably high, the national average is only 63 percent so Vermont ranks fourth among the states,” Shapiro said.

"Three-quarters of those students finished a degree somewhere within six years and that's remarkably high, the national average is only 63 percent so Vermont ranks fourth among the states." - Doug Shapiro, executive director of Clearinghouse

Vermont also ranks high in the number of students who graduate from the same institution where they started. Only 11 percent had changed schools. Two percent switched from four-year to two-year programs.  

But those who do transfer to other schools are quite likely to transfer out-of-state.

“Ten percent of students who start in four-year publics in Vermont end up graduating from a different school in an entirely different state and that’s remarkably high,” Shapiro said. “The national average there is only about 4 percent so two and a half times the national average.”

This study does not address the reasons for which students either stay in place or transfer. But Shapiro says mobility is a trend, not just in Vermont, but nationwide. He says colleges need to work harder to retain students. But Shapiro notes that an individual college’s graduation rate does not tell the whole story of how many students earn their degrees — even if they decide to graduate from a different school or an online program. Still, there are students who start college and never finish. In Vermont, six years after enrollment, 7 percent were still trying to finish a public four-year degree, and 18 percent had dropped out of college. 

Charlotte Albright lives in Lyndonville and currently works in the Office of Communication at Dartmouth College. She was a VPR reporter from 2012 - 2015, covering the Upper Valley and the Northeast Kingdom. Prior to that she freelanced for VPR for several years.
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