Indiana State University focuses on degree completion in 4 years or beyond


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Affording tuition, passing courses or graduating on time. The demands of college students have escalated in recent years.

Officials at Indiana State University say college students have a lot on their plates while earning a bachelor’s degree.

The most recent statistics show that less than half of those students make it to graduation before their 6 year mark.

The traditional college experience seems like a pipe dream in today’s age. Attend a four year university, graduate in your field on time, find a job and student loan debt, minimal.

“I used to be able to have a summer job where I could earn what I needed to pay for the next school year,” ISU president Dr. Deborah Curtis said.

“That four year model … It was originally based upon a model that more fit when I went to college,” Dean of University College Linda Maule said.

Both Curtis and Maule understand this is a pivotal time for students. They have to balance class work with maintaining a job, all while the pressure is on to decide what to do with the rest of their lives.

Which is why completing that degree in four years isn’t their first goal for students.

For us it’s pushing for completion, driving completion.”

Dr. Curtis

Dr. Curtis says from 2012 to 2017 just 30% of ISU students graduated in four years, 41% of students graduated in 6 years. And the numbers reflect a similar trend at other Indiana colleges.

According to the 2018 report by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, all four year campuses state-wide ranked at 38.5% in on-time graduation and 59.2% graduated within 6 years.

Still professionals say that Indiana State serves the students in the state.

About 55% of them are low income students which means it’s a different path to graduation … Than you see on other campuses.”

Dr. Curtis

In fact in 2013 the University College hosted it’s first cohort of students and advisors. It’s housed in the university’s oldest academic building Normal Hall. What was once the campus library in the early 1900s when the university was Indiana State Normal School.

But a new history is on the shoulders of this historic spot. Academic advisor are tasked with seamlessly transitioning high school seniors into course ready college students. Many of which are first generation college students.

We play a really important role, a critical role in persistence and retention which then leads to hopefully on time graduation and at the very least graduation.”

Dean Linda Maule

Dean Maule says the university college’s role isn’t just making sure students are in the right courses, It’s also assisting them with financial aid, pairing them with mental health and tutoring resources. An all encompassing guidance toward student success.

And slowly, but surely graduation rates are starting to look up. Besides … When there’s a will there’s a way.

We met Marquise Black during may commencement. The communication major completed his bachelor’s degree with a focus in public relations in just 4 years.

And he’s a first generation college student.

As long as you’re determined and willing to put forth your best effort. As long as you know what you’re getting yourself into and getting that degree and making sure you constantly remind yourself of that vision you have you can succeed in four years.”

Marquise Black

Finances are a big part of what blocks students from completion.

University officials say they want to see a change in the way financial aid is distributed.

They will soon start to give more need-based financial aid compared to what they’ve historically done.

That means more money will be taken away from merit-based aid to make up for this shift.

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