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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A Few Changes Bump Grad Rate

Over the course of 14 years, Georgia State University managed to boost its six-year graduation rate from 32% to 54%. Some of the methods used by the university to raise that rate didn’t cost a lot and, in hindsight, seem rather obvious.

For instance, the school realized that how well (or not) students did in introductory courses in their major served as a fairly reliable predictor of their academic success (or lack of it) later on. However, students who needed help could only receive generalized tutoring in writing, math, and languages. So, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the university hired high-performing students to attend course sections and provide tutoring on that specific content each week to other students who needed it.

Many intro courses were moved to a “flipped” format, which required students to complete reading assignments beforehand so that they could use class time to apply the concepts in the course materials.

Students also used to change their major an average of 2.6 times, which forced them to stay in school longer to complete degree requirements. Georgia State now provides students with a lot more information about majors—including more opportunities to meet with faculty and alumni—to help them make better-informed decisions about their field of study, cutting the rate of major-hopping by 32%.

One tactic that did cost the school a little more up front was hiring a number of academic advisors to get in touch with students more promptly when analytics indicated they were in need of help. The extra expense paid off, however, as fewer students dropped out.

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