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Colleges Strive to Increase 4-Year Graduation Rates



By Catherine Groux
Posted June 14, 2012 03:02 PM

Colleges are working to help more students graduate in four years.
Colleges are working to help more students graduate in four years.
Today, fewer than half of the students who set out to earn a bachelor's degree do so in four years; however, in some states, this figure falls far below the 50% mark. In Idaho, for example, only 37.8% of students in public four-year schools graduate in four years, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. Arkansas and Louisiana hold similar percentages, with their four-year graduation rates hovering around 38.7%.

These low rates are detrimental to students for several reasons. Primarily, individuals who spend extra time in college must pay more for their education, which can put them further into debt after graduation. Additionally, studies have shown that the longer students spend in college, the less likely they are to actually finish their degree program.

For these reasons, as well as many others, various schools across the country are striving to improve their four-year graduation rates, The Washington Post reports. Indiana University, for example, plans to offer discounted summer courses to help students who are falling behind catch up to their peers and graduate on time. New York's University at Buffalo, on the other hand, asked incoming freshmen to sign an on-time graduation pledge in an attempt to raise their four-year graduation rate from about 45% to 60%.

Other schools are striving to give their students the inspiration they need to graduate in a timely manner. For example, last fall, officials from the University of Minnesota gave each student a 2015 tassel at their convocation, according to the Post.

"Hang it where you will see it every day - in your room, on your laptop, on your roommate's nose - as a reminder that graduating in four years is your goal," university President Eric Kaler told the bachelor's degree seekers.

Across the country in Tennessee, Middle Tennessee State University is working to increase its graduation rate, as just over half of its students graduate within six years, The Associated Press reports. Higher Education Commission Policy Adviser David Wright said that in order to meet this goal, the school must target first-generation students and adults, as these two groups historically struggle in college.

Currently, the school is heeding Wright's advice by giving adults credits for non-academic experience if they demonstrate what they know. In doing so, the university is rewarding adults who have spent years in the workforce and giving them the credits that bring them one step closer to a bachelor's degree.

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