Baruch College’s Graduation Rate Highlighted in National Study
New York, NY - October 4, 2006—In a recently released paper by The Education Trust, an independent nonprofit organization advocating high academic achievement, Baruch College was singled out as the only large, four-year college in the country with 50 percent of the student body receiving Pell Grants–an indicator of significant financial need–and a six-year graduation rate of more than 50 percent.
Titled “Promise Abandoned: How Policy Choices and Institutional Practices Restrict College Opportunities,” the paper highlighted Baruch for successfully implementing measures that improved graduation rates from 35.5 percent in 1998 to 53 percent in 2004. Today, Baruch’s six-year graduation rate stands at 58.7 percent.
“I’m extremely pleased and proud of our students, faculty, and staff and their efforts to make Baruch a model for other colleges to improve graduation rates for low-income students,” commented Baruch President Kathleen Waldron. “Our community continues to be extremely committed to very high academic achievement and, just as importantly, supporting that achievement through innovative programs and curriculum.”
President Waldron added that most of Baruch’s students have numerous responsibilities beyond their education, including holding jobs that supplement their families’ income.
A Model for the Country
As noted by Provost David Dannenbring, Baruch’s success at achieving higher graduation rates is driven in part by a City University of New York (CUNY) mandate for each of its colleges to have specific plans to improve graduation and retention rates. To that end, Baruch developed a variety of innovative strategies and tactics, including:
- identifying its most difficult courses and providing extra support to students;
- proactively contacting students who appear to have academic difficulty;
- tracking topics students need the most help with and providing that information to professors so they can respond;
- increasing the number of summer, winter intersession, and weekend courses;
- preparing incoming freshmen by providing summer college classes while they are still in high school; and
- providing software that allows students to track their progress toward fulfilling graduation requirements.
From Sharing Reading to Declaring Minors
Because Baruch is a commuter school without residence halls it is challenged to help students develop peer groups. To address this, it developed AirBaruch, a network that gives students special community-building and academic applications through their mobile phones. Additionally, the College created “shared learning communities” between specific classes in different fields.
“The improvement in grade point averages of students involved in the shared classes compared to those who are not has motivated us to expand this program,” said Ben Corpus, Baruch’s Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. Although Baruch offers a wide array of majors, more than 70 percent of the degrees it awards are in business, and many of the undergraduate students who enroll plan on business careers. Student who plan to study business are required to take 10 “foundation” courses in their first two years and must earn at least a 2.25 GPA in eight of these in order to continue on to junior- and senior-level courses in the business majors. This requirement, Provost Dannenbring says, means that students focus much more closely on learning the materials in those courses.
To help retain students who could be considering leaving the College because they want or need to change their major, Baruch hosts a “career day” to let them learn about other degree programs within the institution. Additionally, Baruch requires students to declare a “Tier III minor” by choosing one liberal arts field outside of their major and taking three successive courses in that curriculum.
“There is no question that our improved graduation rate is, in part, driven by a highly motivated student body that is striving for the American dream,” said President Waldron. “That said, without the right tools and motivation, even the best intentions are sometimes not enough to meet the challenges of a demanding higher education environment and curriculum. Baruch understands this, which is why we have gone the extra mile to ensure that our students have as much opportunity as possible to meet and exceed the standards that will allow them to thrive in their respective careers.”
About Baruch College
Baruch College has an over 150-year history of excellence in public higher education with an emphasis on business. It is an award-winning, diverse institution and a senior college in The City University of New York system, the nation’s leading urban public university system. Baruch draws bright and ambitious students who are serious about preparing themselves to succeed.
Baruch offers undergraduate and graduate programs of study through its three schools: the Zicklin School of Business, the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Public Affairs. The College also offers non-degree and certificate programs through its Division of Continuing and Professional Studies.
Contact: Carol Abrams, Chief Communications Officer, (646) 660-6105, or Lara Moon, Communications & Marketing, (646) 660-6093.