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Boise State’s graduation rate one of lowest in West

Boise State’s six-year graduation rate stood at 26.2 percent in 2008, according to university statistics. BSU’s four-year graduation rate, according to statistics from, was an eye-popping 6.2 percent.

statsAlicia Webb planned to major in music at Boise State, be graduated in four years.  Yet things didn’t exactly work out that way, said the fourth-year student from Salem, Ore.

“[For my] first two years, I was taking music classes and was only able to take one, maybe two other classes a semester,” Webb said.  “This summer, when I went to talk to my adviser, he wasn’t able to give me any information.  I talked to the communication department dean who told me that after looking at my info, he had no idea why I thought I would be able to graduate in spring 2010.”

Boise State’s six-year graduation rate stood at 26.2 percent in 2008, according to university statistics.  BSU’s four-year graduation rate, according to statistics from, was 6.2 percent.  These numbers came despite being listed as one of the “top up-and-coming schools” in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, and a drive by the university to increase its academic profile.

The statistics were compiled after a 2002 study followed 1,655 students as they pursued bachelor’s degrees for six years.  Of the group, 434 graduated within time frame.

Some students aren’t surprised by BSU’s low numbers.

“Classes aren’t offered when you need them, and the times offered and the number of classes offered don’t match up,” said Jenna Lineberger, a fifth-year student majoring in public relations.

Lineberger was previously a marketing major, but switched after four years.  She hopes to graduate in spring 2010 — after taking 21 credits that semester alone.

Third-year student Joe Garner agreed with Lineberger.

“The university does not provide key classes on a consistent basis,” Garner said.  “I took audio production in the communication department to get involved with radio, and I needed advanced audio to fulfil my requirements.  The class has only been offered one time in two years!”

Garner said he was lucky to get into the class, but others weren’t so fortunate — meaning they would have to wait another two years to take the class.

According to a study by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research published on June 3, Boise State’s graduation rate ranked among the lowest among all public universities in the West, with a 28 percent, overall graduation rate.  The University of Idaho, by comparison, had a 53 percent overall graduation rate.

In his State of the University Address Aug. 19, President Bob Kustra did not mention improving the graduation rate.

As of press time, the university had not responded to an email sent to the Registrar’s Office seeking comment.

Students blame the low graduation rate on a number of causes.  “(Advisers will) send you on a wild goose chase for PNs (permission numbers) and instructor approval (to take a class),” Lineberger said.

Lineberger, a former BSU cheerleader, also said some professors refuse to accommodate the schedules of student-athletes, despite a policy that stated they must.  Lineberger said she knows a lot of students who have stopped attending.

Sean Mitchell, a fourth-year business communications major, thinks the economy may be a factor in students not graduating.  He said he has been a part-time student (defined as enrolled in less than 12 credits a semester) in the past because of financial difficulties.

Even non-students are concerned about BSU’s graduation rate.  Tim Hassinen, a student at Portland Community College in Portland, Ore., said he had been considering attending BSU after earning his associate degree, but changed his mind after hearing about the low graduation rate.  Hassinen said he considered Western Oregon University, which had a 46 percent graduation rate.

A slew of new programs introduced by the university, which included the controversial “Finish in Four” plan which helped students graduate in four years, had not been in place long enough to have an impact on graduation rates, as studies often take years.  It will not be known what impact the “Finish in Four” plan had on graduation rates until 2012 at the earliest.

Despite what many students perceive as the university’s unwillingness to assist students, Mitchell offered some advice for those trying to graduate.  “A lot of people shift what they want to do,” Mitchell said.  “Have a good plan and be committed to it.”

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11 Comments on Boise State’s graduation rate one of lowest in West

  1. How many times does the subject of Boise State's low graduation rates have to rise to the surface in order to reveal the substandard education offered by this University. Poor curriculum, poor instructors, shortage of classes, lower standards for admissions and failure of administration to strive for academic excellence are all part of the equasion. (Yes, there are a few good instructors, but they are not nearly enough to affect the standing of this university) If the administration applied the same amount of energy to academics as they do to football and graduate students they could have raised the standards. But, talk from the administration is cheap, evidenced by the pathetic low graduation rates that have not improved. The public view and the reputation of BSU in academia is sorry indeed. But, enrollment is up and tuitions keep rolling in and that suits the administration just fine.

  2. P.S. It is just too easy to blame the students for BSU's low graduation rates, as do those in the office of the President of BSU. (See Bob Kustra's comments under BSU statistics.) Other esteemed academics refute the assertion made by the administration at BSU, and instead say that it is wrong to blame the students because it is up to the univerity to find ways to support students so that they can achieve their goal of completing their college education.

  3. VandalThinker // Sep 28, 2010 at 8:46 am //

    I think BSU undergrads are too worried about making rap videos of their overzealous football team.

  4. I had a terrible time attending BSU. Poor instructors and poor courses. The school needs a major revamp on education if it wants to compete as a major university. I would not recommend this school to anyone at the moment, besides maybe football players. I transferred to the University of Idaho and love it in Moscow. Yes, not much to do in Moscow compared to Boise, but the school here is worth it. Instructors care about students, advisers are willing to go the extra mile. U of I is far superior school than BSU. Go Vandals!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I feel like those who want to graduate in 4 years will graduate in 4 years regardless of where they go or what the overall graduation rate is. That is the most ridiculous statement I've ever heard. A complete fallacy. I'm an engineering major who puts in the time and effort it takes to make it through the most rigorous of classes and am doing more than fine. For those who complain about permission numbers you're just lazy. In being only a freshman I had to obtain several permission numbers for above average freshman classes and did not have any trouble obtaining them. BSU may have had academic slack in the past, but with all the money that has been brought in by our athletes the university has and is doing a tremendous job in expanding the different colleges it has to offer. It is more than me just "saying" crap too. Take a look around. The university has built in the last 2-3 years several new complexes now and working on many more. Everything is expanding faster than it can possibly be built. I feel like this says a ton about a university. Obviously it's a cheaper tuition university, but why would you want to pay more for an education that will look the exact same once you graduate? To reiterate it, for those who want to make excuses to why they transferred and blame it on the university go ahead. The rest of us will stick to it and earn a degree that's actually worth while.

    • IdahoEducator // Jul 13, 2011 at 3:37 pm //

      Yes, that education must have truly been "worth while" considering the spelling/grammar errors and overall poor quality of your writing. Perhaps the administrations should spend the money earmarked for "expanding faster than it can possibly be built" (whatever that means) on employing quality instructors and revamping the class schedule to accommodate a true 4-year program.

    • I totally agree. I have also had to obtain a large quantity of permission numbers due to my jump ahead in classes (primarily math) and it has never once truly been a hassle. I'm sure there is always a need for some improvement, but it has got to be difficult to maintain a perfect system for a school that is developing with such rapidity. Every transfer or dropout who I have physically met did so under circumstances of their own making.

      To IdahoEducator: I'm sure that the time spent reviewing and editing others' comments must be the pinnacle of your existence. I did not know that Internet Trolling 101 was a worthwhile class.

  6. and yet BSU's athletic director is the highest paid person in the state. Go figure.

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