Taylor’s slice of nice

Story by Taylor Kuether

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This is the first installment of Taylor’s Slice of Nice, a semester-long column that will feature good things happening around the globe and take a look at how we can implement them locally.

What they’re cooking up:Taylor's slice of nice
According to The Daily Good (www.good.is), a group of 25 colleges and universities in the Boston area have banded together to raise graduation rates. Across the U.S., only 57 percent of this year’s freshmen class is expected to graduate within six years.

The problem, at least in Boston, is students entering college may not be fully prepared for the course material and may instead start by taking remedial classes. This can be discouraging to new students, both from the additional financial burden brought on by the cost of remedial classes and from having to wait to jump into classes for their desired major.

The schools are testing solutions by implementing summer courses designed to prepare students for the work they’ll receive in a college setting. They’re also forming cohorts, or predetermined study groups, designed to give at-risk students a support group, similar to our own First Year Experience (FYE) classes here at UW-Eau Claire.

The schools are also offering up more scholarships than ever so that students who currently work long hours at jobs they need to support themselves can work fewer hours and devote more time to their studies.

What I love about this idea is the changing mentality of the higher education system.

In Boston, students are no longer being left to succeed or fail on their own; their schools are becoming active in
their success.

How it can be homemade:
The 13 four-year UW System universities could similarly band together to increase overall graduation rates within the System. Current six-year graduation rates, gleaned from each university’s website, are at an average of 53.9 percent for the System. UW-Madison boasts the highest rate at 84 percent, while UW-Parkside finishes last with only 27 percent of students graduating within six years.

There is definitely room for improvement. UW-Eau Claire certainly has the right idea with FYE classes, but adding pre-college summer preparation courses across the System could be very helpful. Incoming freshmen could enroll in the summer course at the university nearest to their hometown and start their school year away from home on the right foot. And additional scholarships, like Boston is offering, are always appreciated.

Starting college is daunting, and acclimating to coursework, as well as a brand new lifestyle, is nothing short of overwhelming. More universities willing to actively influence a student’s success can also positively affect a low nationwide graduation rate.

Do you know of something good being cooked up somewhere in the world? Let us know on Facebook at facebook.com/spectatornews or e-mail us at [email protected]; we could feature it as next week’s Slice of Nice!

Taylor Kuether is a junior print journalism major and the Editorial Editor at The Spectator.

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