BSU Retention, 6-year Grad Rates Soar

posted Oct 3, 2014, 7:53 AM by DONALD COBERLY   [ updated Oct 3, 2014, 7:59 AM ]

It’s a big ship to turn, but Boise State personnel are making significant progress in retention and graduation rate among their undergraduate students. BSU’s retention rate from freshman to sophomore year has improved by 13 percent in the past decade, from 62% for the class of 2003 to 75% for the class of 2013. The First-time Full-time 6-year graduation rate, as reported to the National Council for Education Statistics and featured on the College Navigator site, increased by 9% from the class of 2006 to the class of 2008, and is up 15% over the last 9 graduating classes.

In fact, the graduation rate improvement is among the best in the nation among 4-year schools. If you think about a 9% gain in terms of an entering class of 5000 at BSU, that’s 450 more 6-year graduates in 2014 than in 2012. Exciting news for Treasure Valley students and parents.

When comparing to peer institutions in the west, BSU’s grad rate growth outpaced Portland State University (+4%), and Fresno State University (0%), and was higher than every peer institution to which BSU compares itself.

Other Idaho universities made growth as well, as you can see in the chart below:

Boise State Vice President Dr. Sharon McGuire illuminated some of the process improvements made at BSU which have likely affected retention and graduation rates, many of which came from the recommendations of a Student Success Task Force in 2005. Here are a few of the actions taken:

  • Hiring a person to oversee the undergraduate experience at BSU
  • Increasing course capacity to support progress toward degrees
  • Developing waitlists for students wanting to take courses that were full
  • Requiring advising sessions for all first year students
  • Promoting a “Finish in Four” program to encourage students to complete their degrees in four years.
  • Adding additional advisor positions to support general and college-based advising
  • Expanding the new student summer orientation to a two-day overnight experience to build community and focus on academics
  • Increasing opportunities for first-year seminars, leaning communities, and residential colleges
  • Developing early warning systems in a number of first-year courses to identify and support students who are struggling
  • Restructuring early math courses to increase student time with instructors, increase instructor preparation and training, and better assess current student knowledge.
  • Prompting students to review their Academic Advisement Report at 30, 60, and 90 credits to keep students on-track for graduation.
  • Enhanced academic support in traditionally difficult courses by offering peer facilitated session
  • Contacting students who are eligible to enroll but have not to inquire about barriers which might be impacting their registration.
  • Offering faculty development activities through the Center for Teaching and Learning and college-based initiatives to help foster student learning and persistence.

Clearly, the folks at BSU would say that more improvement is needed. But what they’ve put in place is working, and benefitting students. Congrats, Boise State!