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It’s no secret that college is expensive. For many students and their families, it represents a significant financial investment. But college is also an emotional investment. It’s a time when young people are exploring their identity, finding out who they are and what they want to do with their lives.

So when students don’t graduate on time, it can be a huge disappointment – not just for them, but for their families as well.

According to a recent study, only 59% of students who enroll in college will earn their degree within six years. That means that 41% of students will either drop out or take longer than four years to finish their degree. There are a number of reasons why this happens.

Some students simply aren’t prepared for the rigors of college-level work.

Others find the transition from high school to college to be overwhelming and end up taking a break from their studies. And then there are those who simply can’t afford to stay in school. Whatever the reason, failure to graduate on time is a major setback, both financially and emotionally.

But it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. There are plenty of people who have gone on to successful careers despite taking a few extra years to finish their degree.

So if you find yourself off track, don’t give up. Just remember that you’re not alone and that it’s never too late to get back on track and achieve your goals.

Key College Graduation Statistics and Facts

An associate’s degree is awarded to 1.01 million persons each year; bachelor’s degrees are awarded to 1.98 million people each year.
Each year, 820,100 persons receive a master’s degree and 184,070 receive a doctorate degree in higher education.
An associate’s degree or higher is held by 42% of American adults. One million people leave college every year.
First-generation students make up 75 percent of those who drop out.
Five times as many students in the 75th percentile of their class graduate than those in the lower 75th percentile.
Full-time students are six times more likely than part-time students to complete their degrees in six years.

College Graduation and Employment Statistics

Nearly two-thirds of new college grads find work within a few months of graduation.
Graduates who are 22 to 27 years old can expect to make around $44,000 per year on average.
People with a bachelor’s degree have a 50% higher chance of landing a job than those with only a high school diploma.

College Graduates by Demographics Statistics

In terms of college graduation rates, white men are the most likely to do so.
Males make up the majority of students studying computer science and engineering, respectively, with 80% and 78% respectively.
Graduates from any race or ethnicity are just 0.6% American Indian/Alaska Native.
In the United States, a majority of college graduates are white. 13 percent of the graduates are Hispanic or Latino, 11 percent are black and Native American, and 6.6 percent are from Asia or the Pacific region.
Two-thirds of all students who start at the age of 18 or younger will complete their studies within five years.
Almost half a million people in California graduate from college every year.

College Graduation Program Statistics

The graduation rate at the University of Notre Dame is the best in the United States. The four-year graduation rate is 93%.
Graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields make up 18.3% of the student body.
With 19.5% of undergraduates choosing this major, business comes in first, followed by healthcare (12.1%) and the humanities/social sciences (8.1 percent).
The medical field is the most popular doctoral degree (43.6 percent).


Most students who enroll in college do so with the intention of completing their education, but this isn’t always the case. According to these graduation rates, a college degree is worth the time and work it takes to earn one.


  • Education Data 
  • Forbes 
  • Think Impact 
  • US News 
  • Best Colleges


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