Graduation rate put in focus

Although the graduation rate has slightly increased over the past three years, the administration is trying to improve the current 18 percent four-year rate and the six-year rate of 45 percent.

Overall, when compared to other public colleges and universities in Florida, Florida A&M University’s six-year graduation rate for first-time college students ranks fifth behind the University of Florida, Florida State University, the University of Central Florida, and the University of North Florida, according to a report on the state university system’s accountability measures in the General Appropriations Act Implementing Bill.

The College of Education ranked in the top five schools and colleges with a graduation rate at 56.45 with a graduation rate at 56.45 percent. The School of Nursing had the lowest with a graduation rate of 33.33 percent.

“There are a number of things that the College of Education does to improve its graduation rates,” said Robert Lemons, Dean of the College of Education. “We practice what we preach. We see each student’s success as our major responsibility, we provide quality academic advisement. We provide early and meaningful clinical, practical experiences, we teach what we test, and we work hard to get to know our students.”

The six-year graduation rate ranks FAMU eighth among the 38 public historically black colleges and universities in the nation, which collectively had a graduation rate of 35 percent, according to a report compiled by the Planning and Institutional Research department of the Florida Department of Education.

“We keep track of the graduation statistics because it is required by agencies that fund higher education, and also to develop retention programs to improve the graduation rates,” said Herman Brann, associate vice-president for institutional research. “We keep track of first-time-in-college students and Florida AA transfer students. We report annually to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and the Florida State Department of Education.”

The report states several factors that contribute to low graduation rates including students who transfer or drop out and students who take longer than six years.

“There are a number of things that students can do to ensure their graduation in a timely manner,” Lemons said. “Attend classes regularly, get to know your professors before its time to take examinations, ignore sidewalk academic advisement or advice from friends, accept advice from your advisors, and take courses in the proper sequence.”

“Study all along and not just when it’s examination time, choose friends who are responsible and get their work [done] and stay out of trouble. Start early working on assignments, and affiliate with the organization for your major area of concentration or study,” Lemons said.

The Office of Institutional Research at FAMU breaks down each school year by school and college in their annual student persistence and success report..

The School of Allied Health Sciences had the highest six-year graduation rate in 2004 at 75.29 percent, followed by the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication at 67.62 percent.

The report measures the graduation rate to monitor the efficiency in which a student progresses towards completing a degree.

The OIR stated “the six-year FTIC graduation rate is calculated by tracking, over a period of six years, a cohort of first-time-in-college students who enter in either the summer or fall term of a given year and determining how many of that original cohort graduated during the six-year period. Both full-time and part-time students are included.”

The state of Florida ranked 10th in overall graduation rates, with graduation rates for hispanic and black students ranked 11th and fifth respectively.

Among the 10 largest states, Florida was third in overall graduation rates and first in graduation rates for black and hispanic students.

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