State Audit Shows Utah Grad Rates Barely Above 50 Percent

by on October 2nd, 2010
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SALT LAKE CITY – A recent Legislative audit reveals roughly half of Utah’s college students don’t graduate within six years.

According to the audit, the University of Utah ranks low compared with similar schools across the country, even though it had the state’s highest rate of graduation at 58 percent.

Southern Utah University and Weber State University had 43 percent graduation rates each, while Utah State University had a grad rate of 55 percent. USU actually fared better than its counterparts across the country.

Kristy Skoglund with Look Love Send graduation cards company says one way to reverse this trend in Utah is to have students refocus their intentions about attending university.

“The goal of a higher education shouldn’t be about getting into college, especially with regard to less competitive university admissions. Students need to keep their eyes on the real prize — graduation.”

Auditors have a few recommendations, including preparing students for higher education before they actually arrive on campus. They also recommend additional fees be levied by the schools against students who exceed the necessary credit hours for graduation.

Salt Lake City fire marshal and division chief Martha Ellis is the city’s first female to hold that particular position, and says understanding future job expectations in her field is key. “…there’s a niche if you’re willing to work hard and stay fit. It’s just a matter of showing people it can be done.” More of her interview can be found here.

Many sophomores and freshmen end up serving missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but even when the report is broadened to eight years, the University of Utah “does not move … into the top half of [other] competitive universities.”

What do local experts have to say about keeping college students motivated to graduate?

“One of the best things to do is set reasonable goals,” says Jenny Kallen with ProHR.com in Salt Lake City. “Many people start a college career with high expectations, and after about three or four semesters start to doubt they will ever finish. Don’t give up! Graduation sometimes seems to be too hard, so I suggest setting annual or semester goals. Concentrate on the here and now.”

To some students, a school career can seem like a daunting task, and Kallen says schools offer resources, like job placement services, to help them focused on their ultimate goals. “[These services] can help students stay motivated by keeping them apprised of the job market for their respective fields.”

Not only do these school resources help with job placement after graduation, but Kallen points out many offer resume help, career exploration and help with preparing for a job interview.

The audit shows graduation rates at Utah’s public universities are the third lowest in the PAC 12 conference. Brigham Young University is a private institution, and wasn’t included in the audit.

To see the audit, click the link here: http://le.utah.gov/audit/11_15rpt.pdf


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