Goal: Increase the percentage of students who persist in and graduate from higher education.
Increasing the number of students who successfully complete a degree or certificate in a timely manner has been an explicit goal of the Board of Regents for nearly a decade. In July 2013, the Board passed a College Completion resolution, identifying five specific strategies proven to increase college success and graduation rates. USHE institution presidents and their administrations and faculty have taken the Board’s charge seriously and have been implementing these strategies and annually updating goals for each. The Board should continue to monitor institutional progress toward each of these goals.
The five completion strategies are:
1.) 15 to Finish
In June 2013, USHE launched the 15 to Finish campaign. This campaign encourages students to take at least 15 credits per semester in order to graduate on time. This campaign targets the 37% of USHE students who take 12-14 credits per semester, and could cut a year off of their time to graduation by just taking one more class per semester.
2.) Plateau tuition
Seven of the eight USHE colleges and universities have instituted plateau tuition, with an emphasis on 12 to 15 credits. That one extra class adds up to a free year of college. USHE institutions have plateau tuition in the following ranges:
- Utah State University: 12-18 credits
- Weber State University: 11-18 credits
- Southern Utah University: 10-18 credits
- Snow College: 10-20 credits
- Dixie State University: 12-20 credits
- Utah Valley University: 12-18 credits
- Salt Lake Community College: 12-18 credits
Approximately 40% of college students are placed in remedial courses. USHE institutions are devising innovative ways to help students with math and to encourage students to take math as soon as they arrive on campus, rather than waiting. Further details on the importance of math were recently released in USHE’s High School Feedback Reports.
4.) Graduation maps
Students have a dizzying array of options when they register for courses, and the course catalog may be overwhelming. Graduation maps help students make sense of requirements to stay on track to finish their degrees on time and help institutions know which courses to offer when.
5.) Reverse transfer/stackable credentials
Students who are awarded an associate degree are more likely to stay in school and finish a four-year degree program, so Utah is making associate degrees a priority. Students can earn an associate degree on their way to a bachelor’s degree, and students who transfer with enough credits can also earn their associate degree at a two-year college, even after transferring, through reverse transfer.
Once a student completes a credential, that shouldn’t be the end. USHE institutions are working to ensure that all certificates can count or “stack” toward an associate degree, and all AA/AS degrees also “stack” with four-year degrees.