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Higher Ed in the News

Study finds many don't complete degree due to lack of academic challenge

September 9, 2009

Princeton University president emeritus William Bowen, lead author of 'Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America's Public Universities,' explores how the U.S. might close gaps in college completion rates.

Not challenged enough

The findings underscore the notion that students should enroll in the most selective college that will admit them. But the problem is not that qualified students are being rejected from academically demanding schools, but that they never apply in the first place. 

The research found that those aiming too low were most likely to be minorities, low-income students and those whose parents never finished college. Recommendations include more effective counseling of high school students as they consider their college options.

Peer effects, expectations

Also, Bowen notes, "We need to understand better why students at more selective places graduate in larger numbers. We think we know some reasons:

  • Peer effects
  • Expectations

More on Crossing the Finish Line.


Read more from USA Today.