Ever wonder how to design college around student success? Well, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the 6-year graduation rate for those who started for the first-time as a full-time undergraduate student seeking a Bachelor’s Degree at a 4-year degree-granting institution in fall 2009 was 59 percent. This statistic varied based on the institution type and also by gender, with women finding more success graduating over men.
The worst graduating rate is found at community colleges. Having gone through a community college myself to transfer to a 4-year as I completed my bachelors, I have seen many people get off track. In my experience, it is several things that contribute to this problem; it starts with a lack of focus due to uncertainty about which major to pursue, and as such, a lack of a clear path to follow.
To tackle the graduation rate problem, University Innovation Alliance (UIA) is trying to remedy the design flaws of the college system. Here is how they are trying to accomplish this task.
Making Clearer Paths for Students
As described in the article by EdSurge, one of the major issues at college institutions is a lack of cross department knowledge among teachers and administrators. Called more informally as “lanes,” it is clear that teachers and administrators understand their own “lanes” but not those of their colleagues. This works against students who often have to navigate across multiple “lanes” to deal with financial aid help and get academic guidance. The UIA is using process mapping to understand more thoroughly how students are interacting with their institutions so that these areas can be improved.
Follow Student’s Plans More Closely to Keep Them on Track
UIA has worked through their innovation fellows to help build out a system that is designed to help institutions to stay on top of a student’s journey from their first year to graduation. Such things that they are developing include predictive analytics (determining if students are getting off track), proactive advising (providing reach out initiatives to students to get them back on track), and finally, retention grants (helping students close to graduation with exhausted finances to finish).
Increase Open Talk About Both Sides of the Coin
A common trend among universities is their desire to share only the positive statistics and tote that as an indicator that they are moving in the right direction regarding a certain problem. However, there is always another side to that coin where certain metrics or facts reveal a more negative part of the story. UIA is trying to foster trust between different institutions so that they each can better understand how to improve from their mistakes.
Addressing the Low Graduation Rate
It is clear that graduation rates could and should be better. It is perhaps one of the pillars that explain the student loan debt problem, with students taking on debt for a degree that they never actually complete. In fact, federal data found that 3.9 million students dropped out with debt. This is just one of the many sad stories about the overall problem of debt in higher education. With UIA leading the way on providing real innovation to the current system, it may be the beginning of the long climb to conquer this complex issue.