Slightly more than half of a typical freshman class at Central Michigan University will graduate with a bachelor’s degree within seven years. Only 20.6 percent of students in that same class will graduate in four years or less.
According to a 2012 university report, persistence rates for first-time freshman students over the past decade have remained at 75.4 percent or above. Of the most recent three-year means, 76.9 percent persisted to their second year, 68 percent persisted to their third year and 64.6 percent persisted to their fourth year.
The report also detailed graduation times for an average freshman class, with only 20.6 percent graduating within four years or less and 47.6 percent graduating in five years or less.
“We aspire to help each person discover their passion,” Jason Bentley, director of the Office of Student Success, said. “Retention rates are one gauge – like the mileage on your car – and they help tell us if we are making good progress in helping students achieve their goals.”
The report also revealed that female students are statistically more likely to graduate within seven years at a rate of 59.7 percent, compared to males at 54.5 percent.
There are a number of services and initiatives that CMU is currently working on to help improve these numbers, including the Higher Learning Commission Quality Initiative, the expansion of academic advising and the online Advising Workbench.
“The more grit we have, the better,” Bentley said. “Individually and as an institution, we must articulate clear goals, work hard toward achieving them, and overcome challenges along the way using resources and support. No person or organization can be perfect all the time. We can, however, be gritty. We can collaborate, see challenge as a motivator, and use feedback to continually drive our improvement.”
Provost Michael Gealt also said high retention rates are crucial for university success.
“In my opinion, the most important factors are great advising and promoting student engagement,” Gealt said. “Advising is central to helping students progress toward their career goals and includes not only course selection but also helping students sort out all the possible careers open to students graduating in a specific major.”
Along with advising, Gealt cites active teaching practices as a way to achieve higher retention rates.
“Advising is central to helping students progress toward their career goals and includes not only course selection, but also helping students sort out all the possible careers open to students graduating in a specific major,” Gealt said. “We know that several programs are enhancing their level of active teaching practices, which are also known to support student success.”
University Editor Kyle Kaminski contributed to this report.