washingtonpost.com  > Education > Higher Education

Where Graduation Is the Goal

Tuesday, April 5, 2005; Page A12

How can a family tell which colleges care most about graduating students? Here are tips from the Education Trust:

Plug the words "National Survey of Student Engagement" or "NSSE" into a college's Web site search engine and see if the school has responded to the Indiana University-based study, which surveys student participation in useful learning activities.

When visiting a college, ask some NSSE-like questions, such as: How much of a chance is there for undergraduates to do original research? Do professors generally assign many short papers (good) or one, big, long one (bad)?

Ask your tour guide how often he speaks to professors outside class about what he is learning. Such conversations are good.

Ask your tour guide how often she and her friends were contacted by their campus advisers in the last semester. Florida State -- which has a good graduation rate for all students, including minorities -- requires at least three contacts a semester.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company


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