UGA reports increase in four-year graduation rate

Record high comes during pandemic year

The University of Georgia says its four-year completion rate has increased to a record 71 percent, up from 69 percent last year and an increase from 63 percent five years ago. UGA’s six-year completion rate is 87 percent.

From Khristina Gallagher, UGA Today…

UGA’s 87% completion rate far exceeds the six-year completion rates for Southeastern Conference peer institutions and UGA’s comparator peers, which average 75% and 79%, respectively. UGA’s 87% six-year completion rate also exceeds the average 84% completion rate for its aspirational institutions.

“These outstanding completion rates reflect the University of Georgia’s rise as one of the top public universities in the nation,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I am proud of our students for their achievements, and I am grateful to our faculty and staff for their commitment to helping UGA students succeed.”

A number of programs and initiatives launched over the last few years have contributed to the positive trend. A series of faculty hiring initiatives have lowered the student-to-faculty ratio and increased the number of small classes. Efforts to enhance teaching and learning, such as increasing the adoption of open educational resources and active learning, have added to this success.

A strong cadre of professional academic advisors across campus provide outstanding guidance to help students achieve their academic goals. Expanded tutoring, mentorship programs and peer-learning support offered through the Division of Academic Enhancement and the Division of Student Affairs have resulted in more significant support, especially for underrepresented groups such as first-generation, rural and transfer students.

To prepare students for success in the workplace and in graduate school, UGA implemented the Experiential Learning (EL) requirement in 2016, ensuring that every undergraduate student has at least one significant hands-on learning experience before graduating. Between summer 2016 and summer 2020, 35,152 students completed 89,457 approved EL activities.

“Years of investment in faculty, student support and initiatives to enhance the learning environment have lifted completion rates to record levels,” said S. Jack Hu, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Our students benefit from these initiatives, and so do our state and nation, which depend on a highly educated workforce to stay competitive globally.”

With new challenges presented by the pandemic, UGA remains committed to helping students reach their academic goals. One new initiative, the Virtual Learning Student Check-In Progress Survey, prompts faculty to share concerns directly with a student’s academic advisor, allowing advisors to connect students with resources. This high-touch, personalized approach ensures that no student lacks the tools necessary to reach their educational goals.

To foster a sense of belonging, the university has launched several new engagement programs, including DawgsTogether, which pairs new undergraduate students with more seasoned undergraduates, and Connect, which helps to form connections between students and faculty members.

Additionally, the Division of Student Affairs has created several programs to facilitate team building, networking and other social engagements, and the Division of Academic Enhancement has boosted support services such as tutoring and academic coaching.

“While the pandemic has driven many of our efforts these last six months, we celebrate the hard work that our faculty, staff and students have shown over the past several years to reach this record-high completion rate. Our success in the past and the future is dependent on our always-strong campus community,” said Rahul Shrivastav, vice president of instruction.

Tim Bryant

Tim Bryant hosts Classic City Today, 6-10 weekday mornings on 98.7FM & AM 1340 WGAU in Athens.

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