By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – More than 20% of students who complete a degree do so at a different college from where they started. Recognizing life’s circumstances, no longer is college in and out after 4 years.

Being able to access data from a new system developed by the National Student Clearinghouse on transfer and part time students as well as graduation rates will show an accurate picture of student success. The site will offer models for bachelor’s degree programs after four, five and six years.

Katherine Mangan, in The Chronicle of Higher Education, cites the University of Texas at El Paso where 97% of the students, Hispanics living on the Mexican border, are accepted but only 1 in 10 finished in 4 years and only 35% in 6 years. If transfers were included, those who take longer would be counted.

If legislators are to base funding on performance, they need to use these new metrics to get such information to gauge college completion.