Alicia 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 collegeresults.org, 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.”