College Completion

What's the Problem?

Once first in the world, the U.S. now ranks 10th in the percentage of young adults with a college degree. To retain our place as a global leader, we need to significantly increase the number of people earning postsecondary credentials. That will mean changing the dynamics in a system where just 50 percent of students who start full-time four-year bachelor’s degree programs ever finish, and less than three out of 10 students who enter full-time community college programs graduate with an associate’s degree three years later.

A focus on “college completion” is the necessary complement to the focus many education leaders already place on “college readiness,” and underscore the need for policies, programs and supports that enable all students to not just go to college, but to complete their degrees.

What's the Solution?

There is no easy answer that will enable all students to successfully prepare for, access and complete their college education, but some strategies have already begun to evolve and are gaining support among higher education leaders and policymakers around the country.

We’re helping state and local education leaders, funders and reform advocates:

  • Develop new institutional and state policies to support completion
  • Improve the alignment between K-12 and higher education systems to build a more seamless and comprehensive educational continuum
  • Strategize about approaches to changing campus culture (and institutional rewards) to value the persistence and success of students as well as the engagement of students
  • Identify strategies for improving the delivery system, including options for redesigning remedial education, expanding the use of technology, promoting more online options, accelerating learning and time to degree, improving student supports and tutoring offerings, implementing early warning identification systems and expanding co-op/internship programs
  • Reform higher education funding to be based on completion and performance rates instead of enrollment
  • Simplify the college admissions process