Grad rates among the lowest in Michigan

Eastern Michigan University is struggling to graduate its students even as it has remained one of the more affordable university options.

According to a study recently released by College Results Online, which is run by a non-profit organization, The Education Trust, only 38.8 percent of EMU students will earn a degree within six years of enrolling.

The study is comprised of information gathered in the U.S. Department of Education’s Graduation Rate Survey.

The study looks at the amount of students who have graduated from particular institutions within the first six years of enrollment.

It does not take into account those who graduate outside of the six year time frame or students who leave school to serve in the armed forces, serve on a foreign aid service of the federal government, serve on an official church mission or those who died or became permanently disabled.

EMU has the sixth lowest graduation rate among Michigan’s public universities. University of Michigan- Ann Arbor has the highest with 88.3 percent, while Wayne State University has the lowest graduation rate with 32.4 percent.

Although EMU’s graduation rates have increased from 36.9 in 1997, the university is still lagging behind other MAC schools. Western Michigan University and Central Michigan University have graduation rates of 53.6 and 57.2 percent respectively.

“EMU prides itself as being known as a school who provides opportunity to those who have the potential to succeed at EMU,” said Lynette Findley, VP of Student Retention and Success.

According to Findley, many of the students who fail to graduate have some of the same characteristics.

These students often do not transition to college life well, “step out” and return later to earn their degrees, become overwhelmed by stress and drop out, lack the financial aid to continue their education, or come to EMU with the intent to transfer to another school.

“The Board of Regents, the president and top executive officers have made retention the number one priority for the university,” Findley said.

EMU has implemented a few programs this year to improve student retention.

The Academic Advising program is now taking what Findley called a holistic approach to helping students. The program has assigned staff to specific populations by the five colleges at EMU. The staff will work side-by-side with college advisors to help students, especially during their freshman and sophomore years.

Also revised was the Promote Academic Success and Survival program. Students enrolled in this program participate in block scheduling of two to three classes in a group, tutoring or supplemental instruction, academic skills workshops, personalized academic advising, bi-weekly meetings with advisors, and academic skills workshops.

To be enrolled in this program students are required to sign a contract stating that they will stay in good academic and judicial standing with the university.

“We know upfront there is a need to create strong freshmen seminar learning communities, and Introductory to University Courses which are key programs known for increasing student success,” Findley said.

Though Findley said there is a lot of work to be done, she is confident EMU is on the right path.

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