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By Marian Wilde
Students take longer to graduate.
Students in public colleges are now taking an average of 6.2 years to graduate, instead of the traditional four years. Their private college counterparts are taking slightly less time - 5.3 years.
The United States falls behind in college completion.
The Measuring Up 2006 report shows that the U.S. has fallen from the number one spot in the world to seventh in the proportion of 25- to 34-year olds holding college degrees. Even worse, the U.S. is in the bottom half of all developed nations for rates of college completion.
Two factors account for these concerning statistics. One, while the United States made rapid progress in sending its citizens to college between World War II and the 1990s, the rate of college participation has leveled off since then. Why this is so is not clear, although the drop in college affordability probably plays a major role. Secondly, other countries, such as Canada, Japan, Korea and Finland, are making rapid progress in improving their rates of college completion.
David Montesano, director of college planning at College Match, a Seattle-based college placement firm, identified these trends for highly selective colleges, the target institutions for many of his clients:
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