New “Commit to Complete” campaign focused on timely degree completion
University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds announced today a new initiative aimed at ensuring students have the tools they need to complete their degree on time so they can enter the workforce sooner and with as little debt as possible.
The “Commit to Complete” campaign provides students, parents and advisors with a four-step plan focused on timely degree completion. The university is providing campaign information to admissions offices and new student enrollment advisors across the campuses, as well students, educators, community leaders and other stakeholders across the state.
“One of the most common questions I hear as I travel across the state and talk with Nebraskans – whether students or parents, policymakers or business leaders – is, ‘What is the University of Nebraska doing to make sure students are crossing the finish line successfully?’” Bounds said. “Nebraskans rightfully want to see us focused on helping our students earn their degree as quickly as possible so they can minimize the costs of their education and start their careers sooner. Commit to Complete is one more strategy we’re putting in place to improve student success at the University of Nebraska.”
Bounds noted that in just a few short years, more than 70 percent of all jobs in Nebraska will require higher education. For the university to continue to fulfill its responsibility to meet Nebraska’s workforce needs – today about 1 in 7 working-age Nebraskans holds an NU degree – the university must not only attract more students, but ensure those students stay on the path to timely graduation.
Improving graduation rates is a strategic goal of the Board of Regents. Timely postsecondary degree completion also is a widely shared goal of Nebraska’s leaders in education, government and business because of its importance in sustaining a competitive economy and highly skilled workforce in the state.
The university already provides students and families an excellent education at a tremendous value, with tuition and fees across the campuses at least 25 percent below the peer averages. NU students, on average, graduate with similar or smaller debt loads than do students at peer institutions. Bounds said students can take full advantage of NU’s value by graduating sooner, thus minimizing their debt. For example, a fifth year of college can add about 20 percent to the cost of a bachelor’s degree.
Commit to Complete asks students to follow a basic four-step plan over the course of their college career:
- Visit their advisor to develop a college completion plan that fits their unique needs.
- Make a plan, including a course schedule for each year of school. A course load of 30 credit hours per year – either 15 credit hours each academic semester, or 12 hours per semester supplemented by summer coursework – is the recommended approach to graduating in four years. Lighter course loads may be more appropriate for the many students who are balancing work, family, military or other responsibilities; the key is that students should work with their advisors to develop a plan that works for them.
- Stay on track. Students should continue to meet with their advisor at least once a semester, choose an academic major by their third semester in school, and participate in internships, networking or other activities that align with their area of interest, for example.
- Graduate sooner, joining the 10,000 students annually who graduate from one of NU’s campuses ready to enter the workforce.
Commit to Complete supplements other strategies the university has put in place to improve graduation rates and time to degree. In 2011, the Board of Regents capped most baccalaureate degrees at 120 hours, ensuring that most students who take 30 credit hours per year can graduate in four years. Each NU campus also supports students through learning communities that provide students in the same academic programs opportunities to live and take courses together; early intervention initiatives for at-risk students; strengthened academic advising; and other efforts.
Director of Communications University of Nebraska