There has been no apparent increase in four-year graduates at Central Michigan University over the last few years, despite a recent survey that indicates otherwise nationally.
According to a national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, the number of students completing four-year college degrees has increased over the last few years. College completion is also at record levels among key demographic groups, including men and women; blacks, whites and Hispanics; and foreign-born and native-born Americans.
The data collected in 2012 shows a record one-third of adults ages 25 to 29 have attained at least a bachelor’s degree. As recently as 2006, less than 30 percent of 25 to 29-year-olds had acquired least a bachelor’s degree.
Director of Institutional Research and Planning Wei Zhou said despite the overall growth in students attaining four-year degrees, it is difficult to pinpoint if this is a definite expansion.
“There is no apparent trend,” Zhou said. “I don’t want to rush to conclusions because the numbers are up and down. It is a bit hard to tell.”
According to the Office of Institutional Research website, statistics on the number of students receiving bachelor’s degrees has fluctuated by a few hundred students from 2000-12 at CMU, which is not significant enough to secure this growing trend.
Zhou explained this is difficult to measure because there are many factors that go into determining graduation rates.
“One thing we are pretty sure about is that we are having fewer and fewer high school graduates,” Zhou said. “That means for now and in the future, CMU is facing a shrinking student population.”
The promotion of retention and a four-year graduation plan by University President George Ross will influence graduation rates, Zhou said.
“Although we have smaller classes, if we are consistent with retention, graduation rates will be constant,” Zhou said.
Some reasons for the increase in four-year graduates include the recent economic recession and the poor job market that has followed. Changing public attitudes about the importance of going to college might also have played a role, according to the PRC study.