These 11 universities are awful and should be demolished right now

The Great Recession has put a lot of people out of work and has taken a huge bite out of the value of pretty much everybody’s real property values. It bankrupted some historic companies, too, including Lehman Brothers and General Motors.

Education is a sector of the economy — a pretty large sector — that has managed to survive the malaise mostly unscathed. American colleges have been able to hang on, virtually en masse, with the tenacity of cockroaches — thanks in no small part to federal largesse in the form of Pell Grants and subsidized student loans.

That’s sad, really, because many public and private colleges and universities are delivering a sloppy, unfinished product. The 2011 “Pathway to Prosperity” study conducted by Harvard University found that only 56 percent of students complete four-year programs in fewer than six years.

Graduation rates don’t always accurately reflect the dropout rate. Some students don’t graduate because they leave at the first opportunity for better schools, for example. Also, students who obtain two-year degrees get missed in any four-year graduation count.

Still, way too many public and private nonprofit schools produce deplorable results — leaving dropouts on the hook for student loans and with little else, and leaving the government out billions in wasted grant money.

The slideshow below presents some of the worst offenders. Hopefully, your alma mater isn’t on the list. It’s probably not, though, because graduation rates are so low.

Eva Cover helped put this slideshow together.

Follow Eric on Twitter and send education-related story tips to [email protected].


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  • In 2012, the <strong>University of Houston -- Downtown</strong> had a six-year graduation rate of slightly over 14 percent. (Photo: Creative Commons/Ed Uthman)
  • The graduation rate at <strong>Northeastern Illinois University</strong> climbed pretty steadily from a dismal 12 percent in 1999 to a dismal 20 percent in 2012. The public school "serves" some 12,000 students with a handful of campuses in the Chicago area. (Photo: Public Domain/Slo-mo)
  • <strong>Rogers State University</strong> in Claremore, Okla. began offering bachelor's degrees in 2000. By 2009, the public school was graduating only 12 percent of its students. Nevertheless, notes local watchdog CapitolBeatOK, in 2011 Rogers State was paying three employees each more than the state's chief executive. (Photo: Creative Commons/AbeEzekowitz)
  • The graduation rate at the <strong>University of Texas at Brownsville</strong> is 19 percent. Until the fall of 2011, admission was open, so basically anyone could attend and fail to graduate. Beginning in 2013, there are meager standards in place. (Photo: Flickr/TravellingOtter)
  • The <strong>University of the District of Columbia</strong>, a public school in the nation's capital, has a graduation rate of just 12 percent, according to The Washington Post. The university is one of just a few urban land-grant institutions in the country, which means next to nothing nowadays. On the other hand, it's among the only features the school can brag about. (Photo: Creative Commons/Gryffindor)
  • <strong>Southern University at New Orleans</strong> -- <em>not</em> Southern University in Baton Rouge -- has fought to raise its abjectly terrible graduation rate for decades. In 2005, Hurricanes Katrina decimated the campus, and half the student body chose not to return. In 2011, notes The Times-Picayune, the school's paltry graduation rate of eight percent was the lowest of all the public historically black colleges in the nation and the second-lowest of any public university -- period -- in a large city. (Photo: Creative Commons/Edward H. Francis)
  • The graduation rate at <strong>Nevada State College</strong> is a little over 21 percent. The school in the nether suburbs of Las Vegas is relatively new (it opened in 2002) and its existence is tenuous at best. State budget problems have reduced funding, and there is occasional chatter of folding the school altogether. NSC started out as a teacher's college, but its current mission, according to the Las Vegas Sun is to "give first-generation, low-income and disadvantaged students" access to a four-year college education (which roughly four in five registered students don't actually get at NSC). (Photo: Google Maps)
  • <strong>Texas Southern University</strong> in Houston graduates 12 percent of its students in six years. Only about three percent of the undergrads manage to get a degree in four years. According to The Texas Tribune, the public historically black college gets more public funding per student than the University of Texas at Austin. (Photo: Public Domain/WhisperToMe)
  • Almost 4,000 unfortunate students attend <strong>Cameron University</strong>, a state-funded, comparatively inexpensive and wholly obscure school in Lawton, Okla. Perhaps the one factor that makes the school remarkable is its six-year graduation rate just under 19 percent. (Photo: Creative Commons/Crimsonedge34)
  • <strong>Allen University</strong> is a tiny private school in Columbia, S.C. In 2010, Washington Monthly deemed it America's second-worst "dropout factory" with an appalling graduation rate of just six percent. A spokeswoman for the school disputed that number, reports WLTX. The real graduation rate, she said, was over three times better: a whopping 19 percent. (Photo: Creative Commons/Abductive)