According to the Federal Government:

1) Background reading on graduation rates here. Previous (vaguely) relevant EphBlog posts here and here.

2) The Diversity Initiatives provided a longer time series.

3) Recall Morty’s comments from reunion a few years ago. (I think that I blogged about them at the time, but I can’t find the link.) The issue of graduation rates came up and Morty admitted that by far the biggest problem involves African-American males. (Morty was always as honest and open as any college president could be.) Given that this is the most difficult recruiting category for Williams (and all other elite schools) that is hardly surprising. If the average African-American at Williams has SAT scores (verbal + math) 200 points lower than the average white, then the difference is probably 250 points when compared to Asian Americans. And, if that is the breakdown for racial groups as a whole, then the average African-American male is probably around between 250 to 300 points lower than the average Asian-American male. So much lower graduation rates among African-American males is what you would expect.

One unexplored question is whether or not the graduation rates are still different once you adjust for SAT scores and higher school grades. This would be a very tough statistical question to explore because there is so little overlap between the African-American and Asian-American population at Williams.

4) Are transfers ignored in this data? If someone leaves Williams, transfers to Harvard and then graduates, then there isn’t much of a problem. But if someone leaves Williams and then never graduates from college, that is a different story.

5) The tricky policy issue: What responsibility, if any, does Williams have to tell at-risk applicants about the odds they face? Right now, Williams tells students nothing. It reports (truthfully) that almost everyone who enters Williams graduates in 4 to 6 years. But Williams knows that your odds of graduating are significantly predictable. Looking at the 6 year data from the Diversity Initiatives, you are three times more likely to fail to graduate from Williams if you are black then if you are white. Does Williams have an obligation to tell this to admitted students?

I suspect that this is not so much as race issue as an academic rating issue. I bet that US students with AR 1 have a 98% graduation rate while US students with AR 4 or below are at 80% or worse. If so, shouldn’t Williams be honest about that discrepancy? Would those students be better off at a different, less competitive school?

Any other pointers to data/discussions about graduation rates at Williams?

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