As part of its ongoing efforts to increase degree completion, APLU named the Florida Atlantic University, Florida State University, and the University of Illinois Chicago as finalists for its 2021 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 three finalists will be named the 2021 Degree Completion Award winner during the APLU Annual Meeting. In this post, APLU profiles Florida Atlantic University’s efforts to improve retention and degree completion.
Florida Atlantic University (FAU) has launched a comprehensive plan to address equity gaps, advance student success, and increase the university’s graduation rate. After taking an exhaustive look at student success outcomes, disaggregated across a variety of characteristics, FAU determined that far too many students were lacking adequate support in entry-level courses. To address this, FAU launched a cross-institutional analytics platform to help inform and track the effectiveness of student success interventions.
These reforms included the adoption of standardized “flight plans” enabling students to easily see the optimal progression of courses to a degree, addressing course bottlenecks that were preventing students from graduating in a timely manner, and innovative financial assistance incentivizing students to register for the next semester.
The multipronged approach contributed to FAU more than doubling its four-year graduation rate from just 19 percent in 2014 to nearly 48 percent in 2020. Crucially, gains have been largest among historically underserved groups, including Black, Latino, and Pell-eligible students.