UI ranks high in grad rate statistics

By Ashley Johnson

Although anecdotal evidence may suggest an increase in “super seniors” – students who take longer than four years to graduate – assistant provost Keith Marshall said that is actually not the case at the University.

Marshall said, according to the Division of Management Information Web site, in 1994 and 1995 the mean number of semesters for graduation with a bachelor’s degree was 8.7, which is equivalent to almost five years. In recent years the number has declined to 8.5, Marshall said.

He also said that about 80 percent of the students who entered the University in 1999 had attained their bachelor’s degree by 2004.

“Eighty percent is a very high five-year graduation rate across the country,” Marshall said. He added that about 59 percent of students graduate in four years at the University, which he said is also higher than many other schools.

Marshall said the University has several policies that help students move toward graduation. For instance, he said the University requires students to take 12 hours to be considered a full-time student, which he said is pretty unique among colleges.

“We do that to make sure a student is making progress toward their degree and will graduate in a timely fashion,” he said.

Marshall added that the main reason students may not graduate in four years is because they change their major. The University requires a minimum of 120 hours for graduation, so a student would have to take 15 hours of classes that apply toward their degree every semester for four years, Marshall said.

Magda Gaucin, fifth-year senior in LAS, said she is staying an extra year because she changed her major from engineering to English her sophomore year. She said the majority of people she knows are also fifth-years.

“Some people who are fifth-years need to take some time to figure out what they want to do,” she said. “I know at least 60 percent of people that I know who are fifth-years are because they came into college unsure of what they wanted to do.”

Associate Dean of LAS Mary Ramsbottom said it’s important to understand that some students may take longer because they double major. She also said some programs, like secondary education, take more than four years to complete.

Still, Ramsbottom said the vast majority of LAS students graduate in four years, even if they change their major. ÿÿ

“There’s enough flexibility in our curricula that most students can change their major and still graduate in four years,” she said.

To accommodate students, Ramsbottom said LAS added general education classes this academic year and expanded the list of summer school course offerings in the summer of 2004.

Jose Estrada, senior in FAA, said he does not see it as a problem that some students take longer to graduate. He said he expects to graduate in December, although he said he would have graduated sooner had he not pursued two minors.

“Education happens inside and outside of the classroom, and I think college prepares you more overall,” he said. “The more time you spend in it, you can get a better view of what you will experience in life.”

But he said there is one detractor for staying in college too long.