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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Despite promising enrollment numbers, UA still has work to do

    For the first time in its 127 years, the UA has enrolled more than 40,000 students, increasing its enrollment by roughly 1,000 students from 2011.

    University officials, who also cite increased retention and graduation rates, have framed this as a sign that the university is headed in the right direction.

    But as promising as these figures look, the UA now has to step up to the challenge of competing with other educational institutions to keep those students, and to attract new students in coming years.

    The UA ranks 58th (tied with Michigan Technological University) in U.S. News & World Report’s list of public universities, and ties with four other universities to rank 120th among all universities nationwide.

    The UA’s one-year retention rate is about 77 percent, but the four- and six-year graduation rates remain low, at about 40 percent and 61 percent, respectively.

    According to the UA Office of Institutional Research and Planning Support, the four-year graduation rate increased 3 percent from last year’s 36 percent, which seems to be satisfactory for university officials.

    But as the national rankings forewarn, the UA will have to strive to increase its place among other universities if it wants to keep enrollment rising in the future.

    Furthermore, the overall state of education in the country is not keeping pace with the rate at which the world is developing. According to a February article by American University in Washington, D.C., the U.S. is falling behind in education.

    In a Brookings Institution survey, 85 percent of international students found American classes to be easier than their classes at home.

    The CIA World Factbook indicates that the U.S. ranks 44th in education expenditures, behind countries such as Cuba, Botswana and Saudi Arabia.

    With youth unemployment at 17.6 percent, the U.S. places 66th, with lower unemployment rates for young people found in countries like Pakistan, Niger, and Venezuela.

    School life expectancy, the number of years the average student will attend school, is 16 years in the U.S., lower than in Ireland, Slovenia and New Zealand, among others.

    In a recent Gallup poll, almost half of poll responders said they were neutral about or disagreed that the average college graduate is ready to enter the workforce. Another Gallup survey showed that trust in public schools is declining. This year, only 29 percent of Americans responded that they trust public schools.

    If the public education system in the U.S. is to improve, then U.S. educational institutions need to move beyond traditional methods to keep students interested in what they have to offer.

    Some of these methods might include having students take a larger role in their learning, making material easier to relate to and giving students more opportunities to participate in the process of absorbing new information through discussion as opposed to lectures.

    If places like the UA take steps to improve on a national and global scale, there may be reason for enrollment to continue increasing next year.

    — Andres Dominguez is a senior studying journalism and political science. He can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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