Part of the reason this has become such a concern is that the older methods of enrolling a student in one university and expecting them to stay there throughout their entire educational process is unlikely. Students are more transient, work full-time jobs, and may take courses online when compared to fifty years ago. Focusing only on enrollment and graduation from the same university leaves out a larger percentage of people that bounce in, out, and transfer as they complete their degrees.
The advantage of a more comprehensive system is that it can influence both state and federal legislation as it offers a more comprehensive picture of graduation rates and the educational experience. For example, students who are first generation college students may not have the same financial resources as other families. Their educational approach may include a number of transfers and a few semesters out of school where such students deal with life issues. The traditional tracking system would simply drop them. With a new system it is possible to track the entire educational process and reflect more accurately their educational paths.
Another issue is that government funding is increasingly being tied to these federal statistics. Those universities that have an important role in serving non-traditional students may appear in a negative light only because the right information is not being collected. Non-traditional students are more likely unable to stop working, move into a dormitory, and have wealthy parents who finance their education while paying their bills. This means their successes will not be tracked, understood, or counted if they don’t fit under a traditional tracking model.