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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA trying to raise grad rate

    UA trying to raise grad rate

    With one of the lowest graduation rates among Pac-10 schools, the UA has a history of having trouble helping students graduate on time.

    But steps are being taken to change that.

    Since 1993, the six-year graduation rate has risen seven percent and the four year graduation rate has risen 10 percent.

    UA administrators say they want the six year graduation rate at 60 percent as soon as possible, although the figure currently stands at about 59 percent.

    Jerry Hogle, vice provost of instruction, said the university is also aiming for an 80 percent graduation rate by 2012.

    “”But it’s going to be hard to do,”” Hogle said.

    While the overall graduate rate at the UA falls below expectations, the number of students who complete their undergraduate studies in four years is even lower.

    According to a 2002 study done by the Office of Institutional Research and Evaluation, 32 percent of freshman from that year who enrolled in a four undergraduate program, graduated from the UA within four years. The figure is up from 1985, when 17 percent of freshmen graduated within four years.

    “”We’re not
    incentivized to keep students here past four years.””

    – Jerry Hogle,
    vice provost of
    instruction

    Among freshman entering the UA in 2000, 59 percent of those who enrolled in a four or five-year undergraduate program had graduated in at least six years. In 1985, 47 percent of freshman graduated within six years.

    To increase graduation rates, the university need to first make sure students are prepared to succeed, said Richard Kroc, assistant vice president for Enrollment Research and Operations.

    Hogle said he also believes the main reason students don’t graduate in four years is the high frequency in which students change their majors.

    “”Students who take a full-time load and don’t change can finish in four years,”” Hogle said.

    “”About two-thirds of students change their majors at least once,”” Kroc said.

    With 217 different undergraduate degrees offered at the UA, students sometimes have a hard time picking the right one for them, Kroc said.

    Kroc said hundreds of students at the UA are either trying to obtain a double major or even a double degree. These students typically graduate in five or six years, which also contributes to the low graduation rate.

    With the majority of majors requiring 120 hours to graduate, most students need to average 15 credits per semester in order to graduate in four years. The College of Architecture, a five-year program, requires 166 hours to graduate and all but one of the engineering majors offered require 128 credits to graduate.

    To aid students, the UA offers a “”Finish In Four”” program where students sit down with an adviser who helps them map out their four years of college. This usually takes place at orientation, Kroc said.

    But Hogle said another problem is that many students don’t go to their advisers often and rely upon their SAPR to guide them through to graduation.

    “”We estimate that 50 percent of students don’t see their adviser at all, aside from orientation,”” Hogle said. “”Advisers are students’ biggest resource and they need to use it.””

    Although an advising session could be made mandatory, that could potentially overload advisers with every student trying to make appointments during registration time.

    Another issue affecting the graduation rate is students often hold jobs while they attend school. In a survey done by the OIRE in 2005-2006, 78 percent of graduating seniors worked during the school year.

    “”We’re not incentivized to keep students here past four years,”” Hogle said.

    However, the UA could be penalized by state legislatures if students accumulate more than 140 hours during their time at the UA, excluding architecture, engineering, pharmacy and ROTC students.

    Money could be taken out of the university budget for that year, or the student would have to pay out-of-state tuition prices in order for them to continue taking classes, according to the new policy the Arizona Board of Regents approved last semester.

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