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Project Degree Completion Award Finalist Spotlight: Cleveland State University

As part of its ongoing efforts to increase degree completion, APLU named California State University, Fresno; Cleveland State University; Montana State University; the University of California, Riverside; and Wayne State University as finalists for its 2016 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 2016 Project Degree Completion Award winner Sunday, November 13 in Austin, Texas during the APLU Annual Meeting. In this second part of a five-part series, APLU profiles Cleveland State University and its CSU Student Success Plan.

Cleveland State University made advances in degree completion through its CSU Student Success Plan. Starting in 2012, Cleveland State set ambitious goals to improve student success. To address slow progress toward degrees and areas where student success could be improved, Cleveland State laid out a comprehensive framework. In 2012, the university established a set of policies to quicken students’ path to graduation and help them succeed academically along the way.

Cleveland State instituted new rules in 2012 that prevented freshman students from withdrawing from classes without first meeting with an advisor and financial aid counselor.

Other key components of the program include summer programming for incoming freshmen who are at risk academically, instituting multi-term registration so that students can plan at least two semesters in advance, and the establishment of the expectation (supported by tuition policies) that full-time students take at least 15-credit loads to graduate in four years.

The initiative also relied on technology. By providing detailed semester-by-semester degree maps when students arrive at Cleveland State, the institution ensures students know the courses they will need to complete to graduate in a timely manner. What’s more, Cleveland State adopted the Starfish early-alert system – which empowers faculty and advisors to work with students who are at risk of withdrawing from courses early or struggling academically.

Altogether, the initiatives led to a six percent increase in six-year graduation rates among first-time, full-time students. And the six-graduation gap among White and Latino students was narrowed from 15 percent to just 4 percent in four years.

Learn more about the other 2016 Project Degree Completion Award finalists.

  • Degree Completion & Student Success

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