Improving college completion in Utah

Timely completion is one of three objectives the Board of Regents decided to focus on for their ten-year strategic plan. Only about two in five students in the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) complete their degree within 150% of time (six years for a bachelor’s, three years for an associate). Increasing the number of students successfully completing college is key to meeting statewide goals and ensuring Utah has the workforce it needs to remain successful.

Corequisite remediation

There is already a concerted effort to pilot corequisite math courses across the state, which have been proved to reduce the time to graduation by allowing students to remediate while taking a for-credit course.

Utah State University is piloting the corequisite course Stat 1045, wherein students who do not meet the eligibility requirements for Stat 1040 are enrolled into Stat 1045. Students in the corequisite course are able to earn their quantitative literacy credit while remediating in one semester. This is possible because Stat 1045 is a five-credit course (rather than three-credit Stat 1040); the extra two hours per week is on-time remediation. This type of remediation has proven to be a successful way to help students complete their math requirement within one semester rather than having to enroll in multiple semesters of math courses that do not count towards degree and do not meet the quantitative literacy requirement.

Utah Valley University is also developing corequisite math courses such as Math 1035, Stat 1045, and Math 1055, and other USHE institutions are looking into the feasibility of corequisite remediation as well.

Next phase of degree maps

USHE will be moving forward on the next phase of degree maps, which ensure math and English are taken in a student’s first year of college. To reap the most benefits from degree maps, institutions are exploring moving these maps into technology-driven guided pathway systems, which act as both an advising and scheduling tool.

Adult learners and the Critical Course Completion Project

Utah continues to be among the top states with the highest percentage of their adult population with “some college, no degree.” In order to better reach these students and encourage them to finish their degree, USHE institutions are working to provide appropriate academic and student services supports.

USHE is gathering statewide working groups dedicated to adult learners and the Critical Course Completion Project. The Critical Course Completion Project will identify critical courses—also called milestone courses—and share ways that institutions identify these courses. This group will also review courses currently required to ensure proper sequencing along a student’s pathway. In identifying critical courses, institutions can highlight where these courses fall on degree maps created for part-time students as well, as these students may benefit from guided part-time pathways.

Complete College America

Utah higher education representatives, including institutional presidents and state legislators, attended the Complete College America conference in November 2016. The conference, highlighting its “Momentum Year,” focused on the following components, many of which align well with the Board’s strategic plan, including appropriate first year math (math pathways), 30 credits per year (attending full time reduces the time to graduation as well as increase retention across our institutions), and degree maps:

  • Informed choice of meta-majors
  • Math pathways
  • 30 credits per year to enable students to finish in four years
  • Nine program credits
  • Math and English gateway courses
  • Corequisite remediation

Complete College Utah

As a follow-up to Complete College America, USHE hosted the Complete College Utah meeting in December 2016. Representatives from various areas across USHE institutions—including enrollment managers, assistant provosts, math chairs, advisors, registrars, and student success directors—attended the meeting, which was organized around presentations on completion initiatives from Complete College America and USHE. Institutions also shared their successful high impact practices with the group.

Completion and access

Complete College Utah and the College Access Network of Utah will participate in a joint conference on April 21, 2017. The combined access and completion mission of this conference will focus on ways to reach all students, particularly underrepresented, nontraditional, and first generation students.

Completion resolution

In July 2013, the Board passed a College Completion resolution, identifying five specific strategies proven to increase college success and graduation rates. USHE institution presidents and their administrations and faculty have taken the Board’s charge seriously and have been implementing these strategies and annually updating goals for each. The Board will continue to monitor institutional progress toward each of these goals.

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