By Chelsea Langley and Ashley Day, Staff Writer and Editor-in-Chief –
UTC students may have realized graduating within four years is a lot harder than it sounds.
In 2016, the 4-year graduation rate at UTC was 21 percent. However, it’s not just UTC who has low 4-year graduation rates. According to a recent report, only 19% of full-time students graduate within 4 years.
Chancellor Steve Angle said that many factors affect this percentage.
“One factor is that for a metropolitan regional university, many students are able to continue working while attending school, which may take a bit longer,” he said. “Many of our students have reported work, family commitments and changes in their desired educational goals as primary reasons for not completing the degree program. One major factor to consider is the number of students who begin their studies at UTC, but transfer to another school to complete the degree program.”
Director of Advising Stacie Grisham said that one reason for this is that students change their major later in their college career.
“It really helps if students walk in the door or know that they want to major in early on,” said Stacie Grisham director of advising. “The later a student changes majors is more of a risk for a graduation delay.”
“It can be hard to pick a major right out of high school because college offers a lot of things that high school didn’t offer, even if it’s something you had exposure to it still seems different at the college level,” said Grisham. “For example I loved science in high school but it was very different and challenging for me in college. Yet, english was very natural and I did very well but I would have never started college thinking that was going to be my major, but I absolutely love it and I think a lot of students go through that same journey.”
Javier Martinez, a senior from Gallatin, Tennessee, changed his major from nursing to pre-med before switching to undecided and finally computer science. He said that this will cause him to graduate one year later.
Chancellor Angle said that the university is working on ways to improve graduation rates.
“We are revamping our first-year experience to help students get off to a good start,” he said. “The university continues to add collaborative learning opportunities to connect students with each other, faculty and the community. These opportunities are manifested through internships, research engagements and learning communities.”
The advising center offers resources to help students find a major that is suited for them early on in their education.
The center is open to students if they want to engage with the Exploring Majors and Decision Making class that the is offered. Students can also use the “Focus 2 Inventory” survey, which is a free career and major interest inventory online targeted to help undecided students.
You can find the career and major assessment at here. https://www.utc.edu/center-advisement/