Why Your Child Won't Graduate From College in Four Years

Last Updated Dec 2, 2010 5:32 PM EST

Think your child is going to graduate from college in four years?
Guess again. Students who earn their bachelor's degree in four years are in the minority. In fact, half of college students can't even graduate in six years!

The grim news comes from the latest graduation rate study from the U.S. Department of Education.

According to the report, about half of students who started college in 2003, had managed to graduate within six years. Another 15% were still attending college and more than a third had dropped out.

The figures were a bit brighter for those who started at four-year colleges and universities. Fifty eight percent of these students graduated within six years.

It's infuriating that the periodic federal reports on graduation outcomes don't include four-year graduation rates. I have never met any parents who want their children to linger in college for five or six years or longer.

Before your child commits to any college, check out its four-year grad rate. You can find this important figure at The Education Trust's College Results Online.

More on CBS MoneyWatch:

Try to Guess These Four-Year Grad Rates
The Scandal in College Graduation Rates
25 Colleges With the Best Professors
25 Colleges With the Worst Professors
Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes for TheCollegeSolutionBlog.
Graduation rate image by JMaz Photo. CC 2.0.