The University of Georgia’s graduation and retention rates have reached all-time highs.
The graduation rate for UGA students who earned their degrees within four years is 66 percent. The average for Southeastern Conference institutions is 45 percent, according to Wednesday’s news release from UGA.
The graduation rate for UGA students who earned their degree within six years is 85 percent. The average for SEC institutions is 71 percent.
The news release doesn’t provide figures from previous years, but articles on UGA’s website show the university’s six-year graduation rate was 83.2 percent in 2013 and 55 percent in 1974, when it started tracking the measurement. The four-year graduation rate was 63 percent in 2015, according to UGA’s website.
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UGA’s retention rate, defined as the percentage of new students who return the following year, is now at 96 percent. The SECs average retention rate is 88 percent.
“There is no commitment more important at the University of Georgia than our commitment to student learning and success,” UGA president Jere Morehead said in the news release. “I want to congratulate our outstanding faculty, staff and students. These impressive metrics ultimately reflect their hard work and dedication to academic excellence.”
Among the initiatives UGA has implemented to improve its graduation and retention rates, the university has added 35 academic advisers since 2015, opened the Exploratory Center last fall to help students choose a major aligned with their talents and aspirations.
“In addition,” the news release says, “new digital tools help improve communication between students and advisors and proactively highlight issues that might impede a student’s progress toward graduation.”
Last year, UGA became the nation’s largest public university to ensure that each of its students engages in hands-on learning, such as an internship, research, study abroad or service learning, according to the news release.
“These high-impact learning practices are linked to higher levels of engagement, deeper learning and higher levels of success in graduate school and in the workplace,” the news release says.
Also last year, UGA completed an initiative that recruited 56 new faculty members to decrease class sizes and increase interaction with students, which has “markedly increased pass rates in challenging courses,” the news release says.
UGA’s Investing in Student Success Initiative is recruiting 10 tenure-track faculty members, 10 lecturers and six academic advisors to support students in fields with rapid enrollment growth.
This fall, the university launched its Double Dawgs program, enabling students to earn a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in five years or less by taking rigorous, graduate-level coursework during the final year of their undergraduate studies. UGA has 115 Double Dawgs linked-degree programs and is developing more, according to the news release.
The university also has expanded its online summer course offerings. A UGA record 16,447 students took at least one summer course in 2017, and 28 percent of those enrollments were online, the news release says.
“Programs such as the recently restructured Freshman College Summer Experience help ensure a smooth transition from high school to the university,” the news release says, “and predictive analytics help the university’s Division of Academic Enhancement proactively reach out to students who could benefit from resources such as tutoring and academic counseling.”
The record graduation and retention rates for UGA come the same year the university received from U.S. News & World Report its highest ranking (16th) among public universities. Kiplinger’s ranks UGA among the nation’s top 10 values in public higher education. The university also boasts a 95 percent career outcomes rate, which exceeds the national average by 13 percentage points, according to the news release.
UGA defines the career outcomes rate as the percentage of students employed, continuing their education or not seeking employment within six months after graduation.