Once in college — government funded and free of charge like lower schools — students take an average of seven years to earn a degree. And 32 percent of them actually do so, well below the average of 48 percent for industrialized nations.To put this number in further perspective, consider the plight of American college students who play Division I-A sports. Years of negative press would lead you to assume major college "student-athletes" are among the lowest academic performers in all of civilization. In fact, the NCAA's most recent numbers for the 120-or-so Division I-A schools show 60% of student-athletes who entered school during the 1995-1996 academic year graduate within six years, as opposed to the 32% of all Germans who graduate within seven. The 60% figure is consistent with the average for the last four classes studied by the NCAA, and it's on par with the overall graduation rate of U.S. students under the same NCAA formula.
Germany has relatively few private schools, and they are expensive. Private universities are almost nonexistent.
Now, when it comes to the big sports—football and men's college basketball—the numbers start to slide into German-like territory. Football players graduated at about a 50% rate, while male basketballers only averaged about 35%. Still, that is higher than the national German average.