Which High School Students Are Most Likely to Graduate From College?

A study finds surprising evidence about which students are really on the path to a college degree.

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Cash helps but is not a cure-all: More generous scholarships, or lower net tuition prices, can boost graduation rates by 5 to 10 percent. But scholarships and true costs need to be communicated to parents far earlier than the current system's six-month lead, and much more clearly, the authors say. In addition, combining sufficient aid with extra support services for students and parents does even more to shepherd students through to graduation.

Some colleges are doing a much better job than others: Colleges where most students live on campus and schools that create "honors" groups and "learning communities" are far more successful at graduating students than other universities.

There is some hope: The graduation rate success of experiments such as the Posse program, which provides teams of 10 low-income and minority students at elite schools lots of scholarships, mentoring, counseling, and peer support, shows that "graduation rates can be increased substantially if enough resources—and creativity—are put to work," the authors say.

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