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UT’s New Strategy for Helping Students Find the Door

The University of Texas’ graduation rate is under scrutiny as the school attempts different ways to increase the number of students graduating in four years.

In February a task force assembled by UT President Bill Powers offered 60 suggestions to encourage students to earn their degree more quickly.

In late August and early September, UT began a sort of branding campaign. The number 2016 (signifying the graduation date for incoming freshmen) began to appear all around campus: on shirts, on tote bags, and even on Twitter (as #2016 became a popular hashtag).

But that’s not all. UT began confronting the problems incoming students have with introductory courses like biology or English with an initiative called the Course Transformation Program (CTP). The program’s aim is to increase success in classes by adding more educational technology and added online features to the curriculum.

But, as KUT News recently reported, there one isn’t specific reason as to why some students take longer than others. One of the biggest reasons can be the awkward transition from childhood to adulthood, when students are beginning to set their own goals and make their own decisions.

So as part of the university’s initiative to improve four-year graduation rates, UT has launched a set of interactive toolsto help prospective students evaluate their readiness for college-level instruction and select a major.

These “wayfinding” elements are incorporated into the university’s "Be A Longhorn" website. They expose applicants to myths about selected majors, provide sample math problems, writing prompts and samples of courses ranging from engineering to journalism.

In a statement, Senior Vice Provost for Enrollment Management David Laude says “This is an opportunity to provide a formative experience that will help students decide what they will be intellectually and begin to take ownership of their college experience.”

Obviously it's too soon to tell if these strategies will improve graduation rates for students. But UT’s total cost of attendance comes in at more than $24,000 per year. So getting out a semester or two earlier can have a big effect on a student's budget and loan balance.

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