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Release: Nov. 8, 2000

UI four-year graduation rate at all-time high, report shows

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa's four-year graduation rate reached an all-time high this past spring, when 37.1 percent of the members of the entering class of 1996 earned their degrees. The UI's four-year graduation rate has climbed steadily over the past 10 years. The four-year graduation rate for the class entering in 1987 was 30.5 percent.

The consistent upward movement in four-year graduation rates is one of the highlights of the annual retention and graduation analysis that will be presented next week when the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, holds its monthly meeting Nov. 15 and 16 in Iowa City.

Five-year and six-year graduation rates have also achieved recent highs, reports Lola Lopes, associate provost for undergraduate education. For the class entering the UI in 1995, 60.5 percent graduated within five years. That's an improvement of five percentage points over the entering class of 1988. For that class, 55.2 percent graduated within five years.

For the class entering the UI in 1994, 63.1 percent graduated within six years. That's up nearly three percentage points when compared to the entering class of 1989. For the 1989 entering class, 60.3 percent graduated in six years.

"Our most significant program with regard to graduation rates is the four-year plan that was started in 1995," Lopes said. "We have made a significant effort to promote the four-year plan with our incoming students and their parents.

"For students who wish to pursue a degree within four years, our goal is to provide the guidance and the benchmarks that will allow them to achieve their goal and have a full and satisfying college experience," Lopes added. "This is what we see as key: setting a goal and developing a realistic plan for achieving it."

However, if the UI is to improve its overall graduation rate, it will have to find ways to reduce the drop-out rates among first year students, which hovers at about 17 percent, said Lopes, who headed a blue-ribbon committee that investigated graduation and retention rates.

Efforts to improve retention among first-year students include these initiatives:

o The UI will conduct a survey of students who enrolled for the first time in the fall of 1999 but did not return this year. The survey results will provide a comprehensive look at the reasons students drop out.

o A new First-Year Success Program is being offered on a pilot basis. Under that program, first-year students who are placed on academic probation after their first semester will be offered a one-hour course designed to help them focus on academic skills and goal setting.

o The size of the Courses-in-Common Program will be increased by 20 percent for the fall of 2001. The Courses-in-Common program allows first-year students to take three classes with the same peer group of 20 to 22 students.

o A new, living-learning community for health science students will open in the fall of 2001. Other living-learning centers already are in operation for pre-business students, Women and Science in Engineering, engineering students, the Honors Program, and the International Crossroads Community (formerly known as the foreign language house).This program allows students who share common academic interests to live on the same floor of a residence hall.