The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) is committed to helping our students complete a world- class education within four years. Students who graduate in four years begin their careers and pursue graduate education sooner than their peers while incurring less student loan debt. In 2011, UT Austin set a goal to raise its four-year graduation rate from 51 percent to 70 percent by 2017. The focus on increasing the four-year graduation rate was rooted in the understanding that delaying graduation creates financial hardship and causes students to delay entrance into the workforce.
UT Austin designed a holistic approach to improving student success that touches every step of the student experience from a student’s first year to their graduation. These Student Success Initiatives include the use of predictive analytics to identify admitted students most likely to be underprepared for the rigors of college, working with Student Affairs to redesign orientation to emphasize academics and belonging, and placing all incoming first-year students in small communities to help them better integrate academically, developmentally, and socially. Other Student Success Initiatives programs include:
- An enhanced Progress to Degree tool that tracks students’ progress toward completing their coursework in four years and alerts advisors if they are off track.
- The Graduation Help Desk, a resource for all undergraduate students that assists with addressing administrative barriers to timely graduation, including course availability and scheduling conflicts.
- The University Leadership Network, a nationally recognized program that addresses the non-academic barriers under-resourced students face by providing incentive-based scholarships alongside professional development and internship programming.
These efforts have resulted in significant improvements in retention and graduation rates:
- First-year retention is now averaging about 95 percent.
- UT Austin’s four-year graduation rate reached a university record of 66 percent in 2017, a 27 percent increase since 2012.
- Most importantly, substantial improvements in graduation rates have been made for first-generation and Pell-eligible students. In 2017, the number of first-generation and Pell-eligible students who graduated in four years rose to 59 percent (from 41 percent for first-generation and 40 percent for Pell-eligible students).
- These efforts have also narrowed the achievement gap between the least and most prepared students. Using SAT scores as a proxy for preparedness, the gap for four-year graduation rates between the top quartile of prepared students and the bottom quartile has been halved from 26 percent to 13 percent since 2012.
The university continues working to improve student outcomes and ensure that all students succeed and graduate in a timely manner.