Graduation rate increases but still lower than most

The number of graduates at Northern Kentucky University has increased more than other universities in the Commonwealth, but still has the second-worst graduation rate in the state, according to statistics released by the Council on Postsecondary Education, the state agency overseeing higher education.

The low graduation rates could be partly due to the fact that NKU does not have a strong on-campus student base, according to Student Government Association President-elect Dustin Robinson.

Robinson said he believes including part-time and transfer students in the calculation for NKU would make its graduation rate look stronger.

Despite the low graduation rate, the rate of degrees awarded to all students at NKU has actually increased by about 74 percent in the past decade, compared to a statewide average of 32 percent. However, NKU still falls behind many Kentucky universities.

“It’s hard to compare [NKU] to University of Kentucky or University of Louisville,” Robinson said.

However, even compared to NKU’s “benchmark” institutions, such as Youngstown State University and Kent State University, graduation rates for NKU are slightly below the median, according to Provost Gail Wells.

To help students graduate on time, the credit hours required has been reduced from 128 to 120. In addition to the efforts made by the university and SGA, Wells recommends that students take a proactive approach by taking an average of 15 credit hours per semester, or taking summer classes.

NKU’s retention rate is another possible factor in the low graduation rate.

While it is common for students to leave college after their first year, NKU continues to lose students all the way through their senior year, according to current SGA President and member of the university’s Board of Regents, Kevin Golden.

Making midterm grades available to all students and streamling student advising are ideas Robinson shared for improving rates.

“The university is really committed to helping [students] move forward and complete their degree in four to six years,” Wells said. “If there are any obstacles, they should let the university know.”

In 2005, admission standards at NKU increased. With 2011 being the sixth year since the standards were increased, Wells said that she believes there will be an increase in the graduation rate this year, reflecting the change.

Story by Roxanna Blevins