Institute Sets 80 Percent Grad Rate Goal

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Student retention and improved graduation rates. These are two priorities for any college or university — including Georgia Tech.     

In a recent progress update to the University System of Georgia (USG), Tech reported that the Institute is supporting the goals outlined in its Complete College Georgia campus plan, which include increasing student retention and improving graduation rates.

The overall goal of Tech’s plan is to reach and consistently maintain an 80 percent, six-year graduation rate before gradually increasing this rate to 84 percent, which is the mean rate of Tech’s peer institutions.

“Georgia Tech has one of the highest six-year graduation rates in the state,” said Sandi Bramblett, executive director, Institutional Research and Planning, and co-chair of Tech’s Complete College Georgia Steering Committee. “For the 20 percent of students who don’t graduate, we want to know their reasons for leaving, particularly those who left in good academic standing. We know that 10 to 12 percent leave because of academic reasons.”

In August 2011, Governor Nathan Deal announced the Complete College Georgia initiative, challenging the USG and the Technical College System of Georgia to develop plans for increasing the number of postsecondary graduates.

In Georgia, 42 percent of the population holds some type of college degree. The governor wants to raise that number to 60 percent by 2020, which will require the state’s public and private colleges to add 250,000 college graduates by 2020.

In 2012, each campus developed its own strategy and goals to increase retention.

For Tech, that includes:

  • Promoting the Complete College Georgia plan to the campus community.
  • Establishing a steering committee to oversee the plan’s implementation.
  • Transferring oversight for the coordination of undergraduate academic advising to the Center for Academic Success.
  • Allocating new financial resources to support priorities.
  • Creating a comprehensive intervention plan for students who are academically at risk.
  • Enhancing programs targeting retention of underrepresented students.
  • Conducting research studies on retention and graduation.

The Office of Assessment, the Office of Undergraduate Education, Enrollment Services, and Institutional Research and Planning took the lead on several research studies in the past year, including a Spring 2013 survey of nonreturning students.

The target population for the survey was students who were eligible to enroll — in good standing or on academic warning/probation — but who have been absent for at least two consecutive semesters.

Tech contacted the students to assess their current status (e.g., employed, enrolled elsewhere, etc.), reasons for leaving Tech, and intentions to return to Tech.

Of those who completed the survey, approximately 40 (34 percent of the respondents) indicated they would like to discuss options for re-enrollment.

Tech’s Vice Provost for Enrollment Services Paul Kohn is contacting students to determine what can be done to support their progression toward obtaining their undergraduate degrees.

Last spring, Tech’s Office of Assessment also conducted a small pilot study with four focus groups of graduating seniors to explore time-to-degree completion factors and potential hindrances to graduation.

“Ultimately, we want to come up with intervention strategies and propose resources available to help students graduate,” said Steven Girardot, associate vice provost for Undergraduate Education, and co-chair of Tech’s Complete College Georgia Steering Committee. Girardot and Bramblett both emphasized that retention is a comprehensive and collaborative effort among many offices.

In early October, the USG will submit the status reports from all universities and colleges to the Governor’s Office, and the reports will be available to the public.



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    Amelia Pavlik
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