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MSU joins national initiative to increase graduation rates

Anabel Peterman

Morehead State University recently announced it joined a national effort to increase the number of college students who graduate with degrees.

Officials said Complete College America, or CCA, aims to help colleges and universities improve retention rates and close completion gaps. CCA will partner with the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education and other state agencies to improve student outcomes.

Nia Haydel is the Vice President of Alliance Engagement and Institutional Transformation at CCA. She said there are two vital components to retention in higher education- pathways and direct solutions.

“So sometimes, students know they want to do this thing, whatever it is, but how do they really get there? And so, making sure that within the university, we have a structure in place to guide them and answer their questions, and so they’re not wandering around and swirling. Right, so pathways. The other are direct solutions- so these are activities or services that touch students directly,” said Haydel.

After initial research and assessments in the fall, CAA will implement the project at individual institutions, and the service will last until 2027.

According to the US Department of Education College Scoreboard, MSU has a 49% graduation rate, and only 73% of students stay after their first year. Haydel said the institutional data will also have an impact on how CAA works to benefit MSU.

“What students are actually graduating? Who’s not graduating, why aren’t they graduating? And we have a conversation about that on the campus, so we’ll be at Morehead sometime in November. And then from there, we determine between us, what they want to prioritize,” said Haydel. “And in the spring, we just start working- and we just identify what those things are, create a plan for implementing the strategies that we have discussed are important and would be helpful.”

She said MSU was selected in part because its leadership and community have both proven they are focused and dedicated to helping students succeed in college and beyond.

“Another factor that was important was whether or not the institutional community was committed to student success. Because we can have all these services and all these supports, but if you don’t have a team who’s really committed to students and excited about students, none of it really matters,” said Haydel.

More information about the College Completion Accelerator and other national student success programs can be found at https://completecollege.org/.