retention and graduation: Measures of Student Success
Measures of Student Success in Undergraduate Programs
Measures of Student Success
Adult undergraduate students enroll at an institution like Golden Gate University for a variety of reasons. Personal edification, serving as a role model for other family members, improving career options and career advancement are only a few of the reasons. In the end, there is a single goal -- to earn a Bachelor's degree. Along the journey to completing an undergraduate degree program students can often be derailed by career demands, family obligations, limited financial resources, and life in general. The higher education experience can also get in the way of a student's success -- lack of support in academic advising and navigating university policies, a poor learning experience or a lack of customer service can also interfere with reaching a graduation goal. With a firm commitment to providing appropriate support for academic and administrative guidance while delivering a challenging, quality learning experience, the faculty and staff of Undergraduate Programs pay close attention to a number of indicators that point to student success. Retention rates: the percentage of students who start a degree program and who consistently enroll over time to reach degree attainment, and graduation rates: the number of students who start and earn their degree as well as how long it takes to reach graduation, are important factors to determine how well we are serving our students.
Understanding Retention & Graduation Rates
The student profile for those seeking a bachelor's degree at Golden Gate University is very different from a traditional, full-time, residential student profile we typically think of when considering retention and graduation rates. The Undergraduate Programs Student Profile consists of students who tend to enroll part-time while working more than 30 hours per week and managing a family. On average, our students transfer in 45 to 51 units of transfer credit but students can enroll at GGU with zero college units earned (with work experience) or as many as 93 units completed. All of these factors impact the enrollment patterns of our students including persistence in a program and time to graduation. There is very little national data to benchmark a "good" retention and graduation rate for this population, but we strive to improve our historical retention and graduation rates while continuing to research performance of like programs nationwide to benchmark the institution's performance.
Retention and Graduation Rates for Undergraduate Programs is available back to Fall 2003. In Fall 2007 a number of new support initiatives were implemented to improve student satisfaction and success. As a result of those activities, long-term retention and graduation rates are looked at in two groups -- Fall 2003 to Summer 2007 and Fall 2007 to present. The goal is to use comparative, longitudinal studies of the two groups to determine the effectiveness of the new services and programs deployed since Fall 2007.
The data will be updated each term to reflect the progress made by each cohort. Questions or concerns with the data provided should be sent to Cherron Hoppes, Ed.D., Dean of Undergraduate Programs
Retention Rates for Undergraduate Programs
Each term - fall, spring and summer - the newly enrolled, degree-seeking students are tracked as a group (cohort group)across time regarding enrollment looking at registrations, stop-outs (students who have not enrolled for more than three terms), and graduation. Retention focuses on student success so those who enroll or who graduate are considered a "positive" action and are tracked as a percentage of the original cohort group.
Undergraduate Programs has developed an "apples to apples" model for comparison, looking at multiple starting cohorts at like times in the program - term 4, 5, 6, etc. A comparison of the two groups (with significantly fewer terms of comparison) at like points in the program indicates improvement during terms 3-6. As a time based data point, additional terms will be required before any definitive conclusions can be made about the impact of the new initiatives however early indicators are quite positive.
Graduation Rates for Undergraduate Programs
As a cohort progresses through the degree programs, a graduation rate can be calculated. A number of factors impact the graduation rate - the retention of enrolled students, the number of units transferred in at admissions and the number of units/courses completed each term. On average it takes 3.5 to 4 years for a GGU undergraduate to complete their remaining units for graduation. Approximately 50% of the students who have enrolled since 2003 have graduated with their bachelor's degree. This number is relative, however, as it is not unusual to have a student return after a 10 or 15 year hiatus to finally finish the program.
Given the average time to graduation, there is limited data available for the Fall 2007 to Present group. Graduation rates for the pre-2007 groups are, on average, 15% two years after program start, 29% three years after program start, 37% four years after program start, 42% five years after program start, and 47% six years after program. Data available for the post-2007 groups are, on average, 17% two years after program start, a 2% improvement over the pre-2007 groups.