A National Priority for Undergraduate Education

“Nearly 90 percent of all high school graduates enroll in college classes during their early adulthood. However, a much smaller percentage of Americans—an unacceptably small percentage—actually complete the education they start. By one measure, about 60 percent of students who pursue a bachelor’s degree complete one. And about 30 percent who pursue a certificate or associate’s degree earn the credentials they seek.

from The Future of Undergraduate Education, The Future of America (American Academy of Arts & Sciences)

  • The American Academy’s Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education established Increasing Completion and Reducing Inequalities as a National Priority and proposes an array of recommendations for colleges, universities, and policy-makers.   

  • Colleges and universities must make completion a top institutional priority, with a clear focus on understanding the diverse needs of students. Institutional resource allocation decisions must be viewed through the lens of whether investments are likely to increase student completion without compromising quality.  

  • Priorities include: better data collection to enable institution-specific insights; providing students with opportunities to make meaningful, personalized connections with faculty and staff; paying more attention to understanding and assisting students from groups with the lowest completion rates; and expanding experimentation with and research on guided pathways designs. 

  • Florida State has made a long term commitment to helping students succeed and graduate at higher rates.
  • Enrollment Management Taskforce: For the past 20 years, a group of about 20 administrators from all facets of campus has met every two weeks to discuss the university’s strategic investments in areas such as tutoring and academic advising and coaching. They represent offices such as advising, admissions, institutional research — and even parking services.
  • Data-Driven Approach: Armed with data on Florida State’s students, they pinpoint the reasons why students aren’t returning to school or graduating. Then, they design solutions and make investments that help students succeed at higher rates.
  • Six-Pillar Strategy: The result is a six-pillar strategy to support students along their path to graduation, as well as challenge and engage them through targeted programs.
    • Success Team Behind Every Student
    • Learning Communities
    • A Redesigned Curriculum
    • Experiential and Global Learning
    • Leadership and Personal Development
    • College to Career
  • Investment: Florida State’s investment in its student support team has included nearly 100 new hires, more than 20 new programs and initiatives such as experiential learning and undergraduate research, and cutting-edge applications and software that guide the data-driven approach.  
  • The Center for Academic Retention & Enhancement (CARE) is one Florida State program that addresses particular interests and challenges of a unique and at-risk population. CARE is nationally recognized for providing first-generation and underrepresented students with the necessary tools, resources and support network they need to flourish in the collegiate environment. 
  • Results: 
    • Of the freshmen who entered the university in 2014, 72 percent graduated in four years. By comparison, 49 percent of freshmen who started at Florida State in 2005 graduated in four years. Florida State’s six-year graduation has steadily risen to 83 percent, and the university’s first-year retention rate has climbed to 94 percent. 
    • Florida State has eliminated disparities in graduation and retention rates among its diverse undergraduate population, which includes nearly a third who are Pell Grant recipients and first-generation college students. 
    • Florida State has achieved these results efficiently. Florida has the second-lowest state tuition in the nation.