Campus Connection.

October 17, 2003 Volume 19, Number 6

Graduation Rates On The Rise At Western Illinois University

Western’s six-year graduation rates increased more than 12 percent from the entering class of 1993 to the new class in 1997.

In Fall 1993, more than 1,500 new freshman enrolled at Western, with 43.2 percent of those students graduating within six years. Four years later nearly the same number of new freshman entered with more than 55 percent of that class graduating. And for each year in-between, the numbers continued to climb, according to data collected by Western’s Office of Institutional Research and Planning (IRP) for the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the U.S. Department of Education.

A comparable study of national six-year graduation rates indicates Western is above the national average, which ranges from 41.9 percent nationally in 1993 to 42.9 percent in 1995. National figures for 1996 and 1997 have not yet been released. The IRP information illustrates that of the new students entering WIU in Fall 1994, 46.6 percent graduated; of the new freshman coming in Fall 1995, nearly 50 percent left the institution with a degree; and of the students entering in Fall 1996, 50.7 percent graduated.

But it’s not just the new freshman at Western persevering to get to graduation day; WIU student-athletes are making an impressive showing as well. IRP statistics reveal that for all new freshmen student-athletes entering Western in 1993, 57.7 percent graduated. New student-athletes coming into the university in 1996 had a graduation rate of 66.7 percent, a nearly 10 percent increase in just three years. The national average for student-athletes graduation rate is 62 percent for those entering Division I schools in 1996.

“We are very pleased with the improvements in our graduation rate since this is a key goal in the draft of our university strategic plan,” said President Al Goldfarb.

Western’s other initiatives as part of the strategic plan to increase retention and graduation rates include implementing a comprehensive academic support services system that strengthens students’ skills most needed for academic success; create a mandatory orientation program for all incoming freshman and transfer students that addresses academic and social skills; and create a set of first-year experiences that assist students throughout their entire academic career.

“Western wants to continually improve its six-year graduation rate by at least 5 percent within the next five years,” Goldfarb said. “With our current incentives, and by putting the initiatives in our plan into action, we will have a support system in place for our students to continue their many successes at Western.”




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Campus Connection is produced by the Office of University Relations at Western Illinois University. It is distributed each Friday when the University is in session and approximately four times during the summer.

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