UT touts student partnerships to increase graduation rates

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UT graduation rate champion David Laude encouraged new students from the Class of 2017 to see UT as a partner to help them graduate in four years Wednesday.

Laude spoke at the mandatory program at UT’s freshman orientation, a three-day session where students are exposed to UT culture, meet their advisors and register for classes. At the session, students were shown a video that outlined specific steps they could take to graduate in four years. 

Steps included taking an average 15 hours per semester for four years, taking summer and online classes, transferring credits from other institutions and using a new online tool that allows students to check their degree progress.

“Most of you think, ‘I’m going to graduate in four, maybe even three years,’” Laude said. “The thing is, that doesn’t just happen. You don’t just roll the ball out and there it is. It actually takes a lot of planning and a lot of work.”

UT is on a campaign to increase its four-year graduation rates from 52 percent to 70 percent by 2016. Efforts the past few years have included reworking freshman orientation to give students more time with their academic advisors and giving students scholarships to encourage them to graduate in four years.

The video also explained possible consequences if students do not graduate in four years and cited it could cost an extra $60,000 on average to spend an extra year at UT. Costs included lost income, additional tuition and student loans.