The recently release “15 to Finish” campaign, released by the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE), is making its mark throughout the Utah education system, to encourage students to take 15 credits each semester to graduate on time and get into the job market sooner.
It is this idea of being financially aware of the cost of prolonging an education that USHE’s campaign targets. The campaign states "Don’t let expenses drag on for years. Go out in the world. Use your degree. Get a great job. Earn more money."
This campaign isn’t a new idea on Southern Utah University’s campus, according to Provost Bradley Cook, administrators and academic advisors have been infiltrating freshmen orientation, informative pamphlets, academic road maps and other literature about the advantageous nature of students finalizing their degree in the outlined amount of time.
“SUU got a jump start on this before it was officially endorsed by the state,” declared Provost Cook. “Helping students be intentional with each class they take, being aware of deadlines and deciding an academic path early all prepares them to graduate in a timely fashion, which in turn can save thousands of dollars.”
Given Utah’s 43 percent average graduation rate for higher education, this is advice that all students should observe, and it seems that SUU’s students are being attentive to. Provost stated that this last year the University saw a 7.5-point hike in the graduating rating, now boasting a 52.6 percent graduating rating in six years and SUU now sits at the second highest graduating rating in the state.
Provost Cook stated it is through a variety of high-impact programs that the University is seeing this dramatic increase in graduation ratings. Some of these high-impact programs are Learning Communities within University Housing, mandatory advisor meetings, changes Freshmen Orientation, increase in undergraduate research, service learning, and study abroad.
Along with giving academic and social support to students, another pro for SUU’s push for "15 to Finish" is that there is no additional tuition cost for 15 semester credits as compared to the commonly considered full-time load of 12 credit hours. SUU doesn’t increase tuition per credit after 12-credits until a student reaches 18 credits.
“15 to Finish” is just a centerpiece of a larger college completion campaign enacted by the State Board of Regents, and in a prepared statement Commissioner of Higher Education Dave Buhler said, “We know that students who enroll in at least 15 credits finish college faster and can start on a career that provides financial independence and increased lifetime earnings.”
As part of an even greater push to increase the State of Utah’s graduation rate, “15 to Finish” is child of the “66 by 2020” campaign that has been created by Governor Gary Herbert and endorsed by USHE. The campaign desires to have 66 percent of the adult population of Utah to have a secondary degree by 2020. Currently the state is sitting at 45 percent with seven years to go.