A Surprising Look At College Graduation Rates In The US

When we compare our education system in the US with others around the world, we often talk about test scores. Which countries boast the highest test scores in Math and Science? Which have the lowest? How does this correlate with educational spending per student, teacher to student ratio, and teacher training?

While these are all important metrics and questions, we often overlook another important factor in evaluating how our education system is working: educational attainment. It goes without saying that across the board, fewer individuals attain the highest levels of education and the number grows as you move down the ladder.

When you compare levels of educational attainment in the US with the rest of the world, however, the numbers don’t look so great. In the US, the high school graduation rate hovers around 75%. In many countries in Asia and Scandinavia, that rate is upwards of 90%. But the numbers are even more dismal in the US when you look at higher education attainment.

The graphics below look at four and six year college graduation rates, and the numbers may surprise you. I thought that I was fairly knowledgeable about this stuff and I was shocked to find out how low some of the numbers are. The graphics are interactive, so spend a few minutes mousing over different states to check out the numbers and do some comparisons.

College Graduation Rates in the US

  • Virginia has the highest percentage of students graduating in 4 years – 46%
  • Nevada has the lowest, with 8.75%
  • Iowa has a 68.67% 6 year graduation rate – the highest in the country
  • Nevada has the lowest 6 year graduation rate – 25.5%

1 Comment


    August 1, 2014 at 6:43 am

    MIT, Harvard, Stanford grduation rates are around 90 % even more .
    Iowa cannot be the highest .