At a time when the performance and productivity of higher educational institutions are spurring national debate, Minnesotans can take pride in this: This state’s private non-profit four-year colleges produce the highest graduation rate in the Midwest and the fourth highest among the 50 states.
That’s the finding of a new analysis by the Minnesota Private College Research Foundation, an arm of the 17-member Minnesota Private College Council. It showed that 61 percent of students at Minnesota’s colleges complete their degrees within four years of enrollment.
Only colleges in the District of Columbia and three Eastern states, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maryland, generated higher total graduation rates. The comparable rate in Iowa and Illinois is 51 percent and in Wisconsin is 47 percent.
Strong graduation rates are a plus for many reasons. They signal that graduates are moving quickly into their earning years, boosting their lifelong earnings and their contributions to society. They are a sign of institutional competence in recruitment, retention and student support.
They also become a point of institutional pride and positive rivalry. It’s likely no coincidence that in the Midwestern state with the highest private college graduation rates, the flagship research university has dramatically improved its comparable rate in the past decade.
The Gophers had reason to keep up with the local competition.
Lori Sturdevant is a Star Tribune editorial writer and columnist.