Michigan Colleges Graduation/Success Rates

This Mlive article summarizes the improvement in graduation and success rates at Michigan public universities in 2015.  It includes a lookup table for your favorite Michigan college. As previous research has shown, many students take more than 4 years to graduate but persist to graduate in 6 years.  There are various reasons for taking longer to graduate. One is due to the cost of college, many students work part-time.

The article is based on the Center for Educational Performance and Information report “State of Michigan PostSecondary Success 2015 Report” released on July 12, 2016.  It is posted on the Michigan School Data website, https://www.mischooldata.org/CareerAndCollegeReadiness/IheGraduationSuccessRates.aspx

The report includes graduation rates for both community colleges and Michigan 4-year public universities.  By extending the calculation of graduation rates to 6 years for community college students, many more students are completing their associate degrees.   On average, the graduation rates at community colleges increases to 35% when a 6 year window is used.  This is a much higher graduation rate than is often reported for community colleges when a 3 year window is used.  One reason is that many community college students working at the same time they attend college classes part-time.

For 4-year colleges, many students today attend part-time also, and some students transfer in from a community college.  Traditionally, the graduation rate for a 4-year college has included only those students who started at a college as a freshman and are full-time students.   In this report, the graduation rates are referred to as  “success rate” which includes both full and part time students and transfers into the college.  See“Understanding Michigan’s Postsecondary Success Rates “  for more detail on calculation and methodology of the success/graduation rates.  The report shows that  the graduation/success rate increased from 39% for graduation in 4 years to 65% in 6 years for all Michigan public universities.

The following Pareto chart shows the available 6-year graduation rates for Michigan public universities (for the 2009 cohort of students). 

Available 6-Year Success Rate for Public Universities in Michigan.  Source: State of Michigan Postsecondary Success 2015 , page 7   


With the latest approach to graduation/success rates, we are including part-time and transfer-in students in the graduation rate.  It is a more realistic statistic. 

The good news is that this report shows that given more time, more students are graduating from college.  

However, some Michigan universities have lower graduation rates than desired. We know that many factors contribute to success in college, including adequate preparation and availability of financial aid. In addition, excellent advising support and tutorial support contribute to graduation.  Having adequate housing and living-learning centers also plays a role; as does extracurricular activities.  Additionally  and very important, having professors who engage students with active learning in their classrooms will lead to higher graduation rates. 

Much improvement has been made in the past several years; more is needed. 

Cindy Veenstra, PhD, ASQ Fellow, Veenstra and Associates