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Degree Completion Award Finalist Spotlight: Florida State University

As part of its ongoing efforts to increase degree completion, APLU named 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 State University’s efforts to improve retention and degree completion.

After analyzing student success data, Florida State University set out to address equity gaps: students who entered in 2009 had a 62 percent graduation rate overall, but that rate was 53 percent for Black students and 58 percent for Pell-eligible students, with transfer students even further behind. FSU launched its Center for the Advancement of Teaching to support faculty as they redesigned courses around students’ needs and created more inclusive learning environments.

They also founded a Learning Assistant Program in which undergraduates who have successfully completed courses are invited back to work in them, helping students learn the material. Additionally, FSU expanded first-year student engagement programs, invested in experiential learning, adopted new approaches to advising, and leveraged its longstanding CARE program, which supports first-generation college students from transition to college through graduation.

Thanks to these multidimensional efforts, FSU achieved a record-high 74 percent four-year graduation rate last year while nearly eliminating gaps by race, ethnicity, and income level.

  • Degree Completion & Student Success

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