A report issued by the Chronicle of Higher Education Dec. 5 showed that the College of William and Mary ranked second nationally among 1,400 public institutions in graduation rates. However, due to a decline in the national graduation rate, United States Vice President Joe Biden has made higher education reform one of his top priorities.
“Right now we’ve got an education system that works like a funnel when we need it to work like a pipeline,” Biden said in a press release. “We have to make the same commitment to getting folks across the graduation stage that we did to getting them into the registrar’s office. The dreams and skills of our college graduates will pave the way to a bright economic future for our nation.”
A recent study performed by the National Center for Education Statistics showed that the national higher education graduation rate hovers around 63 percent. On average, the graduation rate at the College ranges from 89 to 91 percent each year.
In addition, the College boasts a four-year graduation rate of 82 percent.
“We have very good students who are motivated to do well at the College,” Provost Michael Halleran said. “We have an excellent faculty that strives to promote such a high graduation rate.”
Halleran also mentioned that the College does not offer a part-time program. As a result, all students must make a full-time commitment to pursuing their diplomas.
When compared to other Virginia schools, the College has the second highest average graduation rate.
James Madison University averages 81 percent per year, Virginia Tech 79 percent, and Virginia Commonwealth University ranks low with 49 percent. The University of Virginia is the only public school in the nation that outperforms the College: its graduation rate is 93 percent.
Biden included an increase of 8 million undergraduate degrees by 2020 in his Higher Education Agenda. In addition, Biden wants the Obama administration to collaborate with state governors to pursue financially sound plans to achieve this goal.
The Virginia General Assembly passed higher education reform legislation in a bipartisan effort in early February. The Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011 provides a new higher education funding policy and calls for an increase in college degrees for Virginians.
“Every Virginian deserves the opportunity to access higher education and pursue their dreams,” Governor McDonnell said in a press release. “This legislation will put us on the path to awarding 100,000 more degrees over the next 15 years.”
When asked how the College will cope with this recent policy change, Halleran stated the changes would be modest. For the next four years, each freshman class will increase by 50 students.
“We probably will not have to change our policy because we already have an excellent graduation rate,” Halleran said. “Those schools that do not have such high graduation rates will most likely have to change their [policies]. A higher selectivity process for admitting students correlates with a higher graduation rate. The College really cannot improve on [its] current percentages.”