Differences in academic preparation, financial stresses and other factors have resulted in huge gaps in graduation rates among Michigan’s 15 public universities.

While 89 percent of students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor graduate, only 26 percent do at Lake Superior State University, according to a Detroit Free Press review of federal data. In between are Wayne State University with a 32 percent graduation rate, Saginaw Valley State University at 38 percent and Eastern Michigan University at 40 percent.

Overall, just more than half of the students who entered college in Michigan as first-time students in 2003 graduated within six years, the newspaper reported.

Graduation rates are lower for minority students. They range from 79 percent at Michigan-Ann Arbor to 9 percent at Wayne State University.

Education leaders say differences in how prepared students are coming out of college, their financial support and the number of students working part-time are among the things affecting graduation rates.

“We have been rightly offering opportunities to people who, in many cases, wouldn’t have a chance to go to a research university. But without being more successful with them, we’re missing the point,” said Howard Shapiro, associate vice president of student services and undergraduate affairs at Wayne State University.

His school is among those trying to help students with tutoring, peer mentors and other forms of support.

LaQuan Rhodes, 18, a graduate of Crockett High School in Detroit, participates in a mentoring program at Saginaw Valley. She said she “wants as much help as possible” and she’s been pleasantly surprised by her mentor’s involvement.

“She’s always getting on me, checking on what I’m doing and if I need help,” Rhodes said. “But it’s not bad. It’s friendly.”

The Saginaw Valley program also requires Rhodes to participate in student organizations and attend workshops.

Lou Glazer, president of the Ann Arbor-based think tank Michigan Future, said universities have moral and economic incentives to reduce the dropout rate.

“It’s the cheapest investment they can make,” Glazer said, noting that students who stay in school keep paying tuition.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

  1. Rick Vera-Burgos says:

    This story promulgates pure stupidity. Consider: typically, UofM incoming students have a 3.8 gradepoint, 31 ACT score, and can put an intelligent essay together just to be admitted. Other schools have much lower standards. So it’s only common sense that Michigan would have a higher graduation rate; they start with better material.

    A well put together news piece would have investigated this correlation also. The garbage above shows a complete lack of journalistic competence.

  2. Cathy says:

    Where’s the link to the complete list of 15 Michigan public universities? The article only gives the results for five.

  3. Kurt says:

    @Rod….we sure don’t need any more ‘functional illeterastes’, do we?

  4. Janelle says:

    So, Rick I would like to know if you think people who have a lower GPA don’t deserve to further their education? Should they not be allowed to get help if they need it, and graduate, and have careers rather than jobs? I’ve been an A student for the majority of my life and I got Cs in my senior year because I stopped caring about school. I chose to do that, but that doesn’t make me any less smart, nor should I be any less deserving to have a chance at rising above the GED and high school diploma level of wealth and income and socioeconomic status. Oh, and for the record, I chose to go to Wayne State because Detroit is my home, and I enjoy the diversity. I’ve been here for 3 years and I’ve been getting ‘since I enrolled. I’m transferring to Oakland because their Interdisciplinary Studies degrees can be completed online, and I’d like to have more free time. Transfers are also a factor in graduation rates. Your lack of consideration for other people. and contempt for those who don’t meet up to your elitist standards demonstrates a complete lack of humanity. Better material, my ass.

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