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Grad rates linked to study habits

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When a new class of freshmen begins at Franklin College, just over half of those students have their degree within four years.

About 54 percent of the students who started at Franklin College four years earlier graduated this year, and about 60 percent of the students who started six years earlier graduated. Graduation rates vary from year to year, so Franklin College tracks the three-, five- and 10-year average graduation rates. Right now, the 10-year average shows that about 51 percent of students graduate within four years, and the three-year average is about 54 percent, dean of students Ellis Hall said.

“You want to see where you’re going across time, are you trending up or are you trending down,” Hall said. “We’d love for (the rates) to be higher.”

Making the grade

A look at Franklin College’s graduation rates

For the 2012-2013 school year: 54 percent of students had graduated within four years, 60 percent within six years

The average for the last three years: 54 percent of students graduated within four years, 59 percent graduated within six years

The average for the last five years: 52 percent of students graduated within four years, 57 percent graduated within six years

The average for the last 10 years: 51 percent of students graduated within four years, 58 percent graduated within six years

Source: Ellis Hall, dean of students

Across Indiana:

31 percent of 33,936 students at public colleges needed to take at least one refresher math or language arts course in 2011. State officials are concerned because the more remedial courses a student takes, the longer they may have to remain in college

That rate included:

  • 7 percent of 13,233 students who earned academic honors diplomas
  • 41 percent of 17,643 students who earned Core 40 diplomas
  • 83 percent of 3,060 students who earned genera diplomas
Source: Indiana Commission for Higher Education

Students at public colleges and universities in Indiana also have been taking longer to graduate, partly because they’re having to take more courses to refresh and improve their math and language arts skills after arriving on campus.

In 2011, about 31 percent of Indiana freshmen attending public colleges needed to take at least one remedial course before they were considered ready for the college’s basic courses, according to the data from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

If students must take remedial courses in college, typically that means they’ll spend more time and money earning their degrees. That’s why local high schools are trying to encourage more students to take college-level courses, so they won’t need to take those refresher courses as freshmen.

And the Indiana Commission for Higher Education also wants to work with Hoosier colleges to increase the chances of students graduating in four years.

When most of Franklin College’s freshmen arrive for their first day of class, they don’t need additional courses to boost their math and language arts skills. Most of the college’s programs are designed so that students can graduate in four years.

But some students need to learn the best way to study and prepare for tests in college, compared with their high school experience. Franklin College has programs in which freshmen can spend several days at the campus before school starts, talking with faculty and students about how best to spend their time outside class, Hall said.

“Studying in college is very different than it is in high school, and a lot of students have to adjust to how they approach college,” Hall said.

Most 17- and 18-year-olds are used to spending about seven hours each day in class, where their teachers are assigning and collecting homework and regularly reminding them what’s due when. Franklin College officials want students to learn early that while they may be spending about 15 hours per week in class — less than half of the class time they had in high school — their workload isn’t going to decrease.

Students need to understand that while they may see their professors two or three times each week, it’s up to them to make sure they keep up with their course work and read everything they should, Hall said.

If students don’t master those principles early, they could wind up staying at Franklin College longer, which will cost them more. Franklin College students living on campus taking 12 or more credit hours per semester spend more than $30,000 per year.

Hall wants to see 100 percent of the students at Franklin College graduate within four years, but that may not be possible. Some freshmen transfer to other colleges after starting at Franklin College, and others transfer to Franklin College after starting elsewhere. Neither figure is factored into Franklin College’s graduation rate.

Students also can change majors and often have to take additional courses that can add to the amount of time needed to graduate, Hall said.

But Hall is also concerned with making sure students do graduate.

“I’m concerned anytime a student who has the ability to graduate, doesn’t,” Hall said.

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