25 Universities With the Worst Graduation Rates

Last Updated Feb 11, 2011 1:35 PM EST

In my last post, I shared a list of the 25 state universities with the best four-year graduation rates. If you 0% on green chalk boardmissed the post, here it is:

Top 25 State Universities for Graduating on Time
Today it's hall of shame time. I'm sharing the 25 state colleges and universities where students almost never graduate on time. In fact, you are probably more likely to find a $100 bill laying on the sidewalk than earn a diploma from these schools in four years.

I pulled these schools from the federal education database called IPEDS. In sharing the names, I'd be remiss if I didn't give a special shout-out to the state of Texas. The Lone Star State managed to get seven of its state universities on this list! Clearly Texas is doing something wrong.

25 State Universities With the Worst Graduation Rates

  1. Great Basin College, NV 0%
  2. Institute of Amer. Indian & Alaska Native Culture, NM 0%
  3. Oklahoma State University Inst. of Technology, Okmulgee 0%
  4. San Houston State University, Huntsville, TX 0%
  5. Texas A&M University, Commerce 0%
  6. Texas A&M International University, Laredo 0%
  7. Alabama State University, Montgomery 0%
  8. Macon State College, Macon, GA 0%
  9. Dalton State College, Dover, DE 0%
  10. Delaware State College, Dover 0%
  11. Harris-Stowe State University, St. Louis 0%
  12. Southern University at New Orleans 0%
  13. Louisiana State University, Shreveport 0%
  14. Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence, KS 1%
  15. Oglala Lakota College, Kyle, SD 2%
  16. University of Houston-Downtown, TX 2%
  17. Purdue University-North Central Campus, Westville, IN 3%
  18. Nevada State College, Henderson 3%
  19. Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago 3%
  20. University of the District of Columbia 3%
  21. Chicago State University, IL 3%
  22. University of Texas at Brownsville 3%
  23. West Virginia University, Parkersburg 3%
  24. University of Texas at El Paso 4%
  25. Sul Ross State University, Alpine, TX 4%

Failing Universities

Why are these schools failing?

Many, if not all, of the schools on this list possess extremely low admission standards. According to the latest federal data, for instance, the University of Houston-Downtown and Great Basin College accepted 100% of their applicants.

Marginal students can gain entry to these schools easily, but they are less likely to be able to hack it academically. The schools on this list also attract low-income students who are more apt to drop out of school or attend part-time because they can't afford it.

Holding Onto to Students

Many of these schools also experience a hard time retaining their students. Only 43% of the freshmen at Southern University at New Orleans and at Haskell Indian Nations University stick around for freshman year. Compare those with the freshmen retention rates at such top schools as Princeton (98%) and UCLA (97%).

The retention rates are low at other schools such as Chicago State (55%), University of the District of Columbia (39%) and Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis (44%), where my mother obtained her bachelors degree - in four years - decades ago.

Since the federal government only tracks grad rates of students who start as full-time freshmen, schools with lots of dropouts will get killed on their published grad rates. It's also possible to have a 0% graduation rate if the school only attracts part-time students since they don't show up in the official grad rates.

So how do administrators at these schools feel about these grim statistics? Mary W. Hendrix, vice president for student access and success at Texas A&M University, Commerce, calls the statistics "misleading."

Hendrix says that many students work and juggle school making it extremely hard to graduate in four years. What's more 60% of freshmen on her campus require remedial courses even though some of them have graduated near the top of their high school graduating classes in Texas. One of the approaches that Texas A&M is trying is assigning a success coach to each entering student.

Unfortunately, what these schools have excelled at is producing students who end up leaving college with no degree, but lots of student debt and that's disgraceful.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes for TheCollegeSolutionBlog.
Graduation rate image by khaybe. CC 2.0.

More on CBS MoneyWatch:

8 Reasons Not To Get a Business Degree
25 Facts About Today's College Freshman
Top 20 Best Paying College Degrees in 2010

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