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National Completion Rates Rise Again

The national college completion rate increased 2.1 percentage points compared to last year, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, a nonprofit that tracks the progress of almost all U.S. college students.

It’s covered by Paul Fain, in Inside Higher Ed.

The six-year completion rate for students who enrolled in college in the fall of 2011 was 56.9 percent. Last year’s rate of 54.8 percent also was up roughly two percentage points from the previous year. That increase followed a two-year slide in national completion rates. However, this year’s rate now surpasses the pre-recession high of 56.1 percent for students who started college in 2007, according to the piece.

The article points out that the number of high school graduates may decline in coming years, but the grads will be more diverse. Unfortunately this could mean a decline in college completions overall.

The challenge for the future of higher education is clear—to reach “at-risk” populations, including individuals whose parents did not attend college. We shouldn’t expect miracles, and a slow crawl upward in college completions might be the most realistic scenario.

It’s also clear that community colleges will be at the forefront of this challenge.