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12 Best and Worst States to Graduate From College

Only 56.1% of freshmen who expect to graduate from college with a bachelor's degree earn one within six years.
I found that pathetic statistic in a new study produced by the College Board, The College Completion Agenda: 2010 Progress Report. Not only are too many students failing to complete college, but many of them are racking up debilitating college debt that can haunt them for years.

When you look at the list of states that produce the most timely graduations -- and I'd hardly consider a college degree that takes six years acceptable -- they enjoy a natural advantage. Most, if not all of the top performing states, have among the highest college graduation rates among adults of all ages.

If you're a teenager living in Massachusetts, for example, you enjoy a better chance of earning at least one college degree because it's more likely that your parents did. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education's annual almanac, 38% of Massachusetts adults earned at least a bachelor's degree. Among college graduates in Massachusetts, 16.1% have earned earned a master's degree, a PhD or a professional degree.

In contrast, in Alaska, which posts the worst college graduation track record, only 16.1% of adult residents have earned at least a bachelor's degree.

States with Greatest Percentage of Students Graduating Within 6 Years

  1. Massachusetts 68%
  2. Delaware 65.7%
  3. Pennsylvania 64.9%
  4. Rhode Island 64.9%
  5. Maryland 64.6%
  6. Vermont 63.7%
  7. Washington 63.2%
  8. Iowa 63.1%
  9. Connecticut 63.0%
  10. Virginia 63.0%
  11. New Hampshire 62.7%
  12. California 62.0%

States With Lowest Percentage of Students Graduating Within 6 Years

  1. Alaska 22.4%
  2. Nevada 38.1%
  3. New Mexico 41.8%
  4. Louisiana 42.2%
  5. Arizona 42.5%
  6. Idaho 42.9%
  7. Arkansas 42.9%
  8. Montana 43.4%
  9. Oklahoma 44.1%
  10. West Virginia 44.3%
  11. South Dakota 45.4%
  12. Hawaii 45.9%
One way to boost your graduation chances is to check graduation rates of individual schools at College Results Online before you commit to any school.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also writes for TheCollegeSolutionBlog. Follow her on Twitter.
Graduation rate image by jpellgen. CC 2.0.