Rhode Island Monthly Higher Learning 2014 : Page 13

A ccording to the Georgetown University Center on Edu-cation and the Workforce, the average lifetime earnings of a college graduate are $2.3 million versus $1.5 million for those with some college yet no degree and $1.3 million for high school graduates. Initiatives like the University of Rhode Island’s Finish What You Started program are working to help former students do exactly that. Higher Learning asked Dr. Dean Libutti, vice provost for enrollment managementat URI, to explain how. C OLLEGE A DMISSION A DVISORS HL: What precipitated the university’s decision to launch the program? DL: In the fall of 2011, the University of Rhode Island looked at its undergradu-ate student enrollment and noticed that something wasn’t right. New student recruitment was strong, as was transfer student enrollment and first and second year retention for continuing students. These are common indicators that often help institutions predict enroll-ment. However, that fall, it appeared the university was missing a group of approximately 300 students who had earned seventy-five or more credits and had been making satisfactory progress toward their degrees. The students were of various majors and several were only a few credits away from earning their degrees. To determine whether this was a new phenomenon, a small team began to look at previous years’ data and discovered that more than 2,600 URI students from an eight to ten year span had earned seventy-five or more credits, yet never completed their degrees. To learn more about this population and to determine if this group could be re-enrolled to foster degree comple-tion, URI launched a pilot called Finish What You Started (FWYS) that targeted an initial group of about 300 students with a mailing and phone calls to discuss their status and encourage their return to URI. The program has since gone viral. FWYS is on to something very big and very necessary. HL: Is the issue of students starting but not finishing their degrees specific to URI or is it a national trend? DL: The university asked the Hanover Group, an independent research group, Strategic individual counseling for college-bound students College Admission Advisors’ knowledgeable consultants help students fi nd colleges that are the best fi t, and then maximize their potential for acceptance. Our services include: College List Creation Sports Recruiting SAT, ACT and AP Tutoring Essay and Application Review Interview Preparation Portfolio/Audition Guidance for Art, Music and Theatre Applicants Located on the East Side of Providence C OLLEGE A DMISSION A DVISORS, LLC 401-524-0660 www.collegeadvisorsonline.com Member, NACAC and NEACAC RHODE ISL AND MONTHLY I higher le arning I 2014 zena fernandes 13

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