Relative Success? Determinants of College Graduation Rates in Public and Private Colleges in the U.S.

Abstract

Amid growing criticism of public universities, there is little discussion of what appropriate institutional evaluation would entail. Six-year graduation rates are commonly used, and public bachelors granting institutions have lower rates than private institutions, but with the growth in non-traditional college attendance, these can be misleading. We develop a regression analysis as a way to evaluate institutions serving vastly different populations. We do this with a dataset constructed from publicly available sources and focus on the evaluation of public colleges. We show that public colleges are able to do more with less: our models suggest that with equivalent resources and student populations, public schools would graduate a slightly larger percentage of students than privates. Since financial resources come from very different sources, we evaluate this finding closely.

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Correspondence to Marc Scott.

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Scott, M., Bailey, T. & Kienzl, G. Relative Success? Determinants of College Graduation Rates in Public and Private Colleges in the U.S.. Res High Educ 47, 249–279 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-005-9388-y

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Keywords

  • college performance
  • educational economics
  • efficiency