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IU office to boost graduation rates

– Indiana University has opened a new office aimed at helping more students graduate on time at all the school’s campuses across the state.

The Office of Completion and Student Success, launched this month, aims to have more IU students earn bachelor’s degrees within four years.

While the push is for students to graduate in four years, a six-year option is included because some students also work 30 or 40 hours a week or have family obligations, office director Rebecca Torstrick told the Herald-Times.

A major element of the initiative is the new – and required for students – degree maps. The online mapping tool allows students to see what classes they need to graduate.

It will be used on all eight IU campuses, so students can adjust the map if they transfer to another campus or take a summer class at a campus near home, Torstrick said.

“The degree maps are just an academic road map,” she said.

A state Commission for Higher Education report this year found that about 50 percent of students at IU’s main campus in Bloomington were graduating on time.

But the rate at the regional campuses was 10 percent or less.

Purdue University’s main campus in West Lafayette was at 38 percent. Ball State University was at 33 percent, and Indiana State University was at 21 percent.

Completion rates factor into state higher education performance-based funding, which is recommended by the commission.

A higher on-time completion rate means more state money for the university.

Torstrick said that previously, students with multiple majors and minors worked with advisers who focused only on the courses of study in their own departments.

Now, those advisers are in communication with each other and the students, she said.

That allows for students to easily see where they can double-count classes, and it helps keep them from taking classes they don’t need.

“All of this is geared toward supporting and improving the most meaningful component of the adviser-student relationship, that is, one-on-one meetings,” Torstrick said.