The “Don’t Suck” theory of improving graduation rates

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Maintaining an up-to-date list of available tutors, calculating financial aid accurately, placing students in the right classes, picking up garbage, and maintaining elevators aren’t “best” practices. They are “minimally competent” practices. Nobody is ever going to publish a research study finding a causal link between $125,000-per-photocopier contracts, Caribbean cruises, and graduation rates.

But I’m quite sure that these things are much more important to helping students graduate than the presence or absence of specific retention programs. They all go to the basic competence and quality of the institution. Well-run universities that have student-focused organizational cultures and are properly accountable to outside regulatory bodies simply don’t behave this way. Well-run universities are also much more successful in helping student earn degrees. It’s unreasonable to think that a university like Chicago State, which enrolls many part-time, low-income, and academically diverse students, will have a 100 percent graduation rate. But based on the research and examples cited in the article, it’s reasonable to expect that CSU could graduate 1 in 2 students, as opposed to 1 in 10.


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