Provost’s Blog

Written by Whitten

Record-Breaking Student Success

Dec 15, 2014

The University’s six-year graduation rate has reached a record 84.6 percent, up from 83.2 percent a year ago. UGA is well above the national average of 59 percent for its six-year graduation rate.

Our fall 2014 Commencement ceremonies are just a few days away, and they come at a time when our students are setting records for earning their degrees in a timely manner.

The University’s six-year graduation rate has reached a record 84.6 percent, up from 83.2 percent a year ago. UGA is well above the national average of 59 percent for its six-year graduation rate. 

UGA and other universities track their six-year graduation rate in compliance with the 1990 Student Right-to-Know Act. Among other things, the law requires colleges to report the proportion of students “completing their program within 150 percent of the normal time to completion,” with the normal time being four years. It’s worth noting that 83 percent of UGA students graduate in five years or less, and 63 percent earn their diplomas in four years.

Our rising graduation rates reflect our commitment to creating a world-class learning environment that fosters even greater student success. Over the past several years, a number of initiatives have contributed to our rising graduation rates, including:

  • The First-Year Odyssey Seminar Program, which was implemented in 2011 and places students in small classes to encourage interaction with faculty and introduce them to the many academic opportunities this institution provides. The size of this university can seem overwhelming to incoming students, but First-Year Odyssey Seminars remind them that they are surrounded by faculty who want to see them succeed.
  • The expansion of the Collaborative Academic and Retention Effort (CARE), an early intervention program designed to address the individual needs of students placed on academic probation. CARE participants experience significant increases in GPA and often return to good academic standing within one semester of participation.
  • New online learning opportunities that enable students to continue to make progress toward their degrees during study abroad, internships or if they’re home for the summer. Our students certainly appreciate the flexibility that online courses provide; Enrollment in online courses increased by 70 percent to nearly 1,850 between 2013 and 2014 alone.
  • Increasing scholarship support through the Gateway to Georgia Scholarship Fund. The number of UGA students who need financial aid has increased dramatically in the wake of the Great Recession, and we know that financial challenges often negatively impact students’ time to degree. The Gateway to Georgia Scholarship Fund, which was launched in 2012, has raised nearly $2 million to date. Scholarship support for students is an urgent priority, and your gift can be the difference between whether a student graduates on time or not at all.

Although our graduation rates are at record levels, we are committed to doing more for our students. Last spring, President Morehead and I announced a series of enhancements to the learning environment that will improve our graduation rates further.

We hired 25 additional academic advisers to increase advising services to incoming first-year students and transfer students. We also hired new faculty to add 80 high-demand course sections in which a limited number of available seats might have impeded students’ progress toward graduation.

One of the academic enhancements that we’re working on involves the use of technology to help students identify their strengths and interests earlier. The goal is to better guide students through the process of choosing a major that’s right for them so that they can graduate within four years and begin their careers or graduate school.

We are also expanding high-impact, experiential learning opportunities that correlate with more timely degree completion and position students for success after graduation. This fall we launched the CURO Research Assistantship Program, which provides a $1,000 stipend to 250 outstanding undergraduate students across campus to work alongside our faculty on research projects.

Commencement is an important time in which we gather to celebrate the accomplishments of our students and mark their transition to the next stage of their lives. Our record graduation rates are yet another reason to celebrate.

For more information

Previous Posts