Michigan State University’s broad-based student success initiatives helped propel its graduation rate to a record high and are helping more undergraduates stay in school.
A record 80 percent of first-time, full-time students who entered MSU in 2012 graduated by 2018. Of the 8,214 who entered, 6,567 graduated within six years, the standard timeframe for measuring graduation rates. Another 12 percent, or 1,014 students, transferred to another institution and 1.7 percent remain enrolled at MSU.
The six-year graduation rate among all United States four-year degree-granting institutions for the 2010 student cohort — the latest data available from the National Center for Education Statistics — was 60 percent. MSU’s rate has hovered in the high 70 percent range for more than 10 years.
The percentage of first-time college students returning for their second fall semester, known as the persistence rate, rose 0.9 percentage point to 91.9 percent. That’s the second highest rate for MSU.
“This increase stems from the deliberate efforts MSU has made to provide increased, campus-wide support for our students’ academic success,” MSU Provost June Pierce Youatt said. “We are committed to narrowing achievement gaps that remain and will continue to expand efforts based on data-driven decision making, improved student progress monitoring, instructional innovation and place-based student support services.”
First-generation college students’ graduation rate increased to 72 percent (from 71 percent) and their persistence rate increased to 88.4 percent (from 86.9 percent).
Pell grant recipients’ graduation rate declined 1 percentage point to 70 percent, but their persistence rate rose from 87.4 to 88.9 percent.
The graduation rate for African American/black students rose 1 percentage point, and international students and students who identify as two or more races increased their graduation rates 2 percentage points.
Michigan State conducts a multi-faceted approach to promoting student success, anchored by its nationally recognized Neighborhoods program that brings academic, health and other support services directly into campus residential buildings. MSU also is leveraging advanced data analytics to improve academic advising and to create four-year degree maps for each major. Michigan State is one of 11 members of the University Innovation Alliance, a national consortium that shares successful strategies in areas such as predictive analytics and data-driven interventions, pre-college bridge programs and adaptive learning software.
Removing financial barriers to student success is another area of UIA and MSU focus. Juniors and seniors who leave school prior to graduation, for example, are most likely to do so for financial reasons. A three-year randomized trial microgrant program supported in part by the UIA pays off tuition balances of up to $1,000 for some Pell recipients, and 200 MSU students have been assisted so far with Spartans Will Completion Grants averaging slightly over $500. Preliminary analysis showed that all who received those grants in last year’s fall and spring semesters re-enrolled for the following semester and also had higher grade point averages than their non-grant receiving peers.