Reports that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker did not graduate from college have provoked a stream of broadsides, most of them misleading.
For starters, he left after three and a half years “in good standing,” according to all accounts. That would put him just a half year shy of graduation, with roughly five courses to make up.
In an era in which many collegians get their degrees in six years, it is easy to forget that, not long ago, four was the standard. “A little more than half of students who enter four-year colleges earn a bachelor’s degree from the same institution within six years,” David Glenn wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2010.
“The 2012 graduation rate for first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year degree-granting institution in fall 2006 was 59 percent,” according to the National Center for Education Statistics. “That is, 59 percent of first-time, full-time students who began seeking a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year institution in fall 2006 completed the degree at that institution within 6 years.” The percentage of students who graduate in four years is closer to 30.
“We don’t have answers to parents who ask us if spending one-third of their income on a college education is worth it,” Sarah Martinez Tucker then at the U. S. Department of Education said in 2007.