12:00 AM

Ohio State's graduation rate is on the rise

COLUMBUS – The six-year graduation rate at The Ohio State University has climbed 16 percentage points over the last decade, President Karen A. Holbrook told the university's board of trustees today (9/22).

Based on the graduation rate of students who entered Ohio State in 2000, 71 percent have graduated, up from a rate of 68 percent last year and 55 percent for students who entered in 1990.

"This is an extraordinary leap for us, especially when one considers that the university only fully implemented competitive admission standards on the Columbus campus in 2003. Just five years ago, the graduation rate stood at 56 percent," said Holbrook.

The increase in graduation rate reflects the growing academic strength of the student body. For the 12th consecutive year, the incoming first-year class is the best prepared in history, with an average ACT score of 26.4.

"We continue to admit more students who are prepared to succeed in college and we are retaining them in greater numbers, thanks to such factors as improved advising, better course scheduling and growing opportunities for undergraduate research. All this contributes to a better graduation rate four, five or six years down the line," said Holbrook, noting that the six-year graduation rate is a federal reporting standard and that most Ohio State students graduate in five years or less.

Ohio State's nationally recognized First Year Experience program plays a major role in the rise in freshman-to-sophomore retention rate, now at 90 percent, up from 84 percent in 2000, said Holbrook. U.S. News & World Report has highlighted the program for five consecutive years as one that leads to student success.

"The rising entrance exam scores, retention and graduation rates all contribute to the growing reputation of Ohio State as one of our nation's leading institutions of higher learning," said Holbrook. "We are making steady progress in the national rankings and can point with pride to being ranked in the top 20 of the nation's public universities in the 2007 U.S. News "Best Colleges" edition."

Executive Vice President and Provost Barbara R. Snyder also reported to the board about plans to reform the university's General Education Curriculum (GEC), the undergraduate academic requirements. "Our current credit hour requirement for graduation is top-heavy in comparison to our peers. Our students must either complete an additional academic quarter of work, or they must take overloads to graduate in the same amount of time as students at Michigan, UCLA and elsewhere," she said.

A 10 hour reduction in hours needed to graduate would enable more students to graduate in four years, carrying 15 credit hours for 12 quarters, according to recommendations made to the Council on Academic Affairs, said Snyder.

"I believe that Ohio State can deliver a bachelor's degree of undiminished quality in four years," said Snyder. "With the better-prepared students we are now enrolling, our outstanding faculty, and programs that put Ohio State among the nation's best public universities, there's no reason that we can't do the same as our benchmark institutions."