If you’ve read any of my recent posts, you’ll know that graduation is on my mind. Today I direct you to an article in the New York Times about a handful of colleges that are going the extra mile to support students – not just to enroll – to GRADUATE from college.

The Dropout Rate is Depressing

The statistics are depressing. Only 53% of college freshmen graduate within a six-year period. For community colleges, the numbers are even worse – only 39% graduate. For those of you who are interested in cost – the current college dropout problem is estimated to cost us $4.5 billion in lost income and taxes.

Turning it Around with Data

That’s the bad news. The inspiring news is that some colleges are taking action. How? One big piece is data analysis. It turns out, grades are important predictors: A student who gets a C, is fairly likely to spiral down into Ds and Fs. A students who gets a B is likely to continue to get good grades. The first student is a candidate for dropping out. The second student a candidate for graduating.

Proactive colleges are crunching the data to find those C students quickly, before it’s too late. They follow up with extra tutoring and other supports to raise grades and get the wobbly students on their way to graduation. Another interesting innovation is the effort at some schools to tailor curriculum format to assist student success. We want to encourage students interested in STEM, right? Our country needs it. That’s where many of the jobs are. But coursework in math and science can be a bear.

Turning it Around with Innovative Course Format

Proactive colleges are introducing innovative teaching formats – replacing lectures with online teaching that includes immediate feedback. At one university, the changed format brought the percentage of Ds and Fs down from 43% to 19%. Whopping!

We all Benefit

Based on the NYT article, here’s a shoutout to North Carolina State and Georgia State for making a huge dent in the dropout rate. I’m sure there are others. Inspiration for all colleges to make the effort. Students, universities, society –All will benefit.

Share your stories of organizations that make a difference in keeping students in school!

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