Program guarantees graduation in 4 years

Joseph Poulos

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Many college students do not expect to graduate in four years, but WIU, following the lead of many other universities, is working on a new program to ensure timely degree completion. The program is called Gradtrack, and it will guarantee that students who follow the requirements of the program will graduate in four years, or the remaining tuition costs left to the student will be waived by the university, according to university officials.”It’s really, in a sense, a way to make sure students who want to finish in four years, which to many parents, legislators and students alike think four years is what a college education should take. A graduation guarantee is just a way to insure that a four year time span is what students are participating in,” Jamie Carson, who has worked under a grant of the Illinois Board of Higher Education to help design the Gradtrack program, said.

The program may be available to incoming freshmen for the 1997-98 school year. Gradtrack does not greatly differ from the regular graduation requirements. However, students must earn a “C” in every course taken, complete 15 hours of courses each semester, and declare their major by the second semester of freshman year, according to a pamphlet from WIU.

“Just to indicate how much of an interest, the University on Northern Iowa has a program like this and last year 52 percent of incoming freshmen signed up for it,” Carson said.

Another feature of the Gradtrack program is priority registration. According to the mission statement proposed in the pamphlet, “Gradtrack students will be provided with priority registration status so long as they remain eligible for the program.”

“We have to get you in (courses) in time so you can graduate in four years, that doesn’t necessarily mean a certain semester. We think there’s going to be an advantage in the sense that if we’re saying to people you can graduate in eight semesters, people will think about graduating in four years. And instead of fiddling around, they’ll stick to it,” Dr. Donald Spencer, president of WIU, said.

“The basic agreement is that students commit to Gradtrack when they enter and they select a major and they work out a plan of courses they’re going to be taking throughout the time that they’re here, and we’ll guarantee that they will graduate in four years,” Dr. Eric Stiffler, associate provost and associate vice president for academic affairs, said. Stiffler’s office has been working with Carson on the plan.

Stiffler added that students must remain in good academic standing and follow the advice of their adviser.

“It’s optional, and the student can drop out of the program at any time,” Stiffler said.

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