As part of its ongoing efforts to increase degree completion, APLU named Boise State University, Colorado State University, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, the University of Texas at Austin, and Western Michigan University as finalists for its 2017 Project Degree Completion Award. The annual prize works to identify, recognize, and reward institutions that employ innovative approaches to improve retention and degree completion. One of the five finalists will be named the 2017 Project Degree Completion Award winner during the APLU Annual Meeting, November 12-14, in Washington, DC. In this fourth of a five-part series, APLU profiles the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UH) and its Student Engagement, Retention, and Graduation plan.
The Student Engagement, Retention, and Graduation effort to coordinate a university-wide effort to raise retention and graduation rates began a decade ago. To help raise graduation rates, UHM launched an online degree audit program in 2007 to help students track their academic progress. The degree audit program was spurred by research showing that students who understand their status in their academic career are more likely to succeed. The audit provides live feedback on students’ progress, facilitates communication between students and advisers, and helps forecast a graduation date based on a student’s completed work.
UHM also created early registration for transfer students so they can enroll in and fulfill prerequisite coursework that is key for timely graduation. Other components of the Student Engagement, Retention, and Graduation plan included additional support to students who are struggling; bolstered student-faculty mentorship; and mandatory academic advising for students with undeclared majors (who are at higher risk of dropping out).
The institution’s graduation rate has increased dramatically since the effort was launched. Over a decade, the reforms contributed to a remarkable 13.7 percentage-point increase in the four-year, university-wide graduation rate.
UHM is aiming to build on this progress. The institution implemented a new feature within in its degree audit program to help students see the best course pathway to graduation. Using predicative analytics, UHM has also worked to identify students at risk of not returning for a second year and providing a scholarship if they re-enroll.
Learn more about the other 2017 Project Degree Completion Award finalists.