Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Graduation Rate Problem at the University of Minnesota
[Perhaps the Morrill Hall crowd needs to get a little more creative?]

The Daily has a nice article on the importance of graduating in four years, given our miserable statistics in that area.

Provost Tom Sullivan has a prominent place in the article. So I addressed some comments on the matter to him on the Daily website.

Here they are:

Provost Sullivan:

Are students not graduating in four years because they cannot afford high costs and large amounts of debt at the U of M?

Or do they have the highest debt upon graduation in the BigTen because they don't graduate in a timely fashion?

Since the Board of Regents has made the graduation rate problem - we have the lowest in the BigTen - a major target for significant improvement, the administration will have to look into these questions more deeply if time can be spared from other ambitious aspirations.

You might perhaps consider the Ohio State model, rather than the quasi-public high tuition model currently being pursued. Of course this would take leadership and cooperation with those in the state legislature.

From The Daily Iowan:

"Ohio State is entering its third year without any tuition increases, a promise the university made to students and families. State support also made it possible to avoid layoffs, and Ohio State employees are eligible for a 2.5 percent payroll increase..."

Another factor you might wish to look into: What is the difference in graduation rate for resident and non-resident students? Perhaps having 30% of our undergrads from out of state is not such a great idea. As with the honors program, residential colleges might help with graduation rates. This seems to be true for Greeks.

Our yield rate is about 1/3. Meaning that we accept about 15,000 of the 30,000 applicants and about 5,000 then choose to enroll here. (These are rough numbers.) This seems to indicate that we are not the first choice of the majority of our reasonable applicants. Perhaps if we accepted a larger number of qualified Minnesota applicants who really wanted to go here we would have better luck? There are institutions whose applicant pools have apparently lower grades and SAT numbers who kill us on the graduation rate statistic. Simply jacking up the credentials required to be accepted is not going to solve the problem and in fact may be exacerbating it.

Perhaps the Morrill Hall crowd needs to get a little more creative in solving this very important problem?

Always looking forward to a conversation...


Bill Gleason
U of M alum and faculty

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