Graduation rates on the rise

    More UC students are graduating in less time, according to an annual report filed by the University of California. Despite unprecedented enrollment growth, UC students have been outpacing national averages in graduation rates, particularly among those classified as underrepresented minority students. Statistics have been compiled through the 2001-2002 academic year and were released on Nov. 12.

    Within six years of entering as freshmen in 1996, 77.9 percent of UC students had graduated by 2002, compared with 72.1 percent for those entering in 1986 and graduating within six years. The increase in graduation rates among minority students is over twice that of the University of California as a whole, jumping from 56.1 percent to 69.1 percent in the 10 years. Graduation rates of transfer students have also increased.

    UCSD’s overall graduation rate for 1996 entering freshmen was 81 percent.

    Decreasing acceptance rates have seemingly augmented the graduation rates as a whole.

    “”UCSD is so selective that only the academically strong are admitted,”” said Mae Brown, director of Admissions and Relations with Schools.

    According to Brown, the average level of academic commitment on the part of students is raised, with more students pursuing degrees and fewer leaving school.

    UC graduation and persistence rates have been higher than national averages. According to data from the Chronicle of Higher Education, the average six-year graduation rate for 1996 entering freshmen in NCAA Division I universities was 59 percent. Conversely, at the University of California, 77.9 percent of those students graduated by the 2001-02 academic year.

    Persistence rates have progressively increased at the University of California overall. In 2001, 92.4 percent of all freshmen returned for a second year of study, compared with 88.9 percent in 1986. Minority student percentages are up nearly six percentage points from 84.5 percent to 89.3 percent for the same time period.

    UCSD’s 2001 retention rate is 94 percent, exceeded only by UC Berkeley at 97 percent and UCLA at 96 percent.

    For the second consecutive year, the one-year retention rate hit a record high for UCSD black students at 97 percent.

    According to UC spokesman Hanan Eisenman, the financial aid model that has been implemented at the University of California has had a measurable impact on persistence and graduation rates. With two-thirds of UC students on some form of financial aid, it is becoming more manageable for students and their families to afford a college education, he said.

    Brown believes the UCSD statistics are positive.

    “”These numbers show students are completing courses successfully,”” she said.

    According to Brown, the undergraduate college system, combined with new student orientations, are helpful in getting more students to continue into their second year and ultimately obtain a degree. With the aid of the Finish-in-Four counseling tool, as well as personalized student interaction with college provosts and counseling staff, the UCSD campus has become very “”pro-active in advising and committing to students,”” Brown said.

    UC Associate Vice President for Student Academic Services Dennis Galligani cited the university’s eligibility requirements as a factor in UC students’ performance.

    “”Students who enroll at the University of California are well-prepared academically and highly motivated,”” Galligani said.

    The amount of time needed to obtain a degree has also decreased, according to the study. For students entering the university in 1995, the average time to obtain a degree decreased slightly to 4.2 calendar years from the 1986 average of 4.4.

    The average time to attain a degree for UCSD students is about 4.25 years.

    Individual college times range from an average of 12.7 quarters in John Muir College to an average of 13.1 quarters in both Revelle College and Eleanor Roosevelt College.

    Eisenman said he did not feel the time to attain a degree would escalate with the state budget crisis.

    The University of California’s budget has been cut by over $300 million in non-instructional areas, especially in libraries, administration and outreach programs, in order to preserve the core educational budget.

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