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New York colleges lag behind in college graduation rates

According to a recent New York Times article, New York colleges rank low in gradation rates compared to other cities in the country. The most educated cities are reported to be Washington D.C., Boston, and San Francisco. In comparison, NY holds 103 colleges, and only a 9.6 percent of the population graduates with a college degree. It also has a more college students than Boston has people according to Mayor Bloomberg in The Boston Globe.

Less than half of NY’s population has a college degree. The exact reasons for NY’s college dropout crisis cannot be specifically determined; however several factors can be evaluated as major influences.

One of the initial reasons for low retention rates may be due to the low graduation rate for NY’s secondary school students, of which only 20% obtain a college degree. The main solution that the city comptroller’s office is promoting is to improve NY’s high-school graduation rates. Inadequate high school education is a fundamental cause for the high college dropout rate, however even those students who have the knowledge and skills to complete college still fail to do so.

Students in states with more highly selective private universities are more likely to graduate. States with low graduation rates, such as New York state, tend to have less private colleges. Also, schools that possess extremely low admissions standards tend to have the lowest graduation rates because the students are less likely to excel academically. These types of schools also attract low-income students, who are likely to drop out because of financial reasons. Students who can not afford to continue attending school tend to work part-time jobs in addition to their schoolwork, which makes it difficult for them to graduate in four years.

NY was ranked #7 in the nation’s best cities to live in because it holds the greatest number of bars, restaurants, museums, and libraries. It is home to America’s advertising, fashion, and financial centers. However, it may be because of these attractions that it is not ranked as high for its graduation rates.

While the university’s first year student retention rate is 77 percent, the 4-year graduation rate is only 42 percent and the 6-year graduation rate is 58 percent. Of the total enrollment of 12,593 students at the university, only 3,749 are graduate students.

When asked why she chose to attend college in NY, Liz Canney, freshman, said “I considered going to school in Madrid and San Diego. I liked San Diego because it was on the water and I liked Spain because of the culture. However, I ultimately ended up picking [NY] because it reminded me of my childhood, as I used to come here as a kid. I came here for the diverse environment.”

Canney adds, “I think it’s difficult to go to school here because the city is so distracting, but one of the main things I was looking for when going to school was not to be separated [from] the rest of society. I do want to study abroad, but I wouldn’t consider transferring to another school outside of NY.”

When asked if he would consider transferring, Kyle Amoroso, freshman, says “If I were to transfer I would still stay in the city. I would go to college in NY because I feel like you’re exposed to so much more here then you will be at a normal university or campus in a suburb.”

NY attracts teenagers and is successful in enrolling them, but only half continue on to earn a degree in less than six years. One of the causes of NY’s low college graduate rate could be that the colleges in general need to be improved. This includes increasing financial aid. Colleges receive money based on how many students they enroll, and not how they handle them afterwards. One incentive for colleges not bothering to hang onto their students is that freshmen are cheaper for colleges than upperclassmen, because seminars are more expensive than large lecture classes.

Another factor is students don’t choose to attend a college because it is the best one they can get into, but rather because of financial aid or location. As a result, they end up attending a school with a low graduation rate or one that is not the right match for them.

Many teenagers who have just graduated high school believe they are ready to head straight to the big city, and realize once they get here that it is too overwhelming and they cant handle the culture or the nightlife. Many transfer students feel the need to attend a traditional four-year college with a wide campus and football team, as opposed to an urban “campus,” which has a completely different atmosphere.

Money is clearly a major part of the unanswered questions regarding low graduation rates. Tuition has no impact on the graduation rates of high-income students, however low-income students are more likely to transfer. It is too easy for students to quit school for an intended short period of time with the intention to resume again soon, but never end up actually fulfilling that goal.

While NY students have the opportunity to become a productive global citizen in a multicultural society, it does seem the city also holds the key to why students here are not excelling as compared to other cities.