April 27th, 2010

The Dothan Eagle reports that many students in our state university system take more than 6 years to graduate. The story is in response to Promoting a Culture of Student Success: How Colleges and Universities Are Improving Degree Completion (PDF), which has some troubling findings:

“Fewer than one-third of degree-seeking, full-time freshmen in public four-year institutions graduate in four years. Most students who enter college as first-time, full-time freshmen take at least six years to earn a bachelor’s degree — and only 55 percent graduate in that time span…students from disadvantaged economic backgrounds or with low SAT/ACT scores are even less likely to complete bachelor’s degrees than their classmates.”

The report notes than many institutions have already implemented evidence-based programs that have successfully increased student retention, including:

  • programs focusing on timely degree completion and academic readiness for college
  • faculty and staff who are passionate about helping developmental students
  • supplemental instruction centers
  • learning communities or affinity groups
  • service learning and civic engagement

Many of the Alabama Poverty Project’s 23 Higher Education Partners already embrace these strategies and are building learning communities, promoting service-learning and civic engagement, and providing supplemental academic programs for developmental students. Evidence shows that service-learning programs and learning communities increase student success and engage students in finding solutions to systemic poverty in Alabama.

What can you do to help more Alabama students finish college?

  • Attend our fall Lifetime of Learning Conference, where we bring together our higher education partners to discuss the evidence-based solutions to graduate more Alabama students, including service learning and learning communities
  • Volunteer or give to support Blueprints, our college access program aimed at low-income high school students in Marion, Montevallo and Hueytown.
  • Mentor a high school or college student

Posted by Robyn Hyden