PNW’s Investments in On-Time Graduation Pay Dividends for Students and State

August 13, 2018

Purdue University Northwest (PNW) was cited for having one of the most-improved on-time graduation rates among Indiana’s 14 public four-year institutions, as reported by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

The average rate of change for on-time student completions at PNW over the past five years is 14.95 percent, representing the largest increase among all Purdue-affiliated campuses and third highest among all other Indiana schools studied.

PNW’s faculty and staff made graduation rate improvement a priority, recognizing the positive impact on students—namely lowering college debt and accelerating opportunities for graduates to enter northwest Indiana’s vibrant workforce. To achieve the ambitious goal, PNW invested in multiple programs designed to anchor students throughout their four-year journey.

15 to finish.

Purdue Northwest actively supports the “15 to Finish” statewide campaign that encourages students to pass 15 credit hours per semester over four years. Adding on to this commitment, PNW instituted “banded tuition” this fall, which allows undergraduate students to pay the same basic tuition rate as 12 credit hours for a course load between ranges of 12 to 18 credit hours per semester. This new initiative helps students graduate on time and reduces the overall cost of their education.

Setting pathways.

PNW developed a robust first-year experience for incoming undergraduate students who are either undecided on a major, or falling short of academic requirements necessary to declare a desired major. Students work closely with full-time, tenured faculty and receive one-on-one advising. Faculty also charted academic plans in a variety of disciplines allowing students to explore potential majors while staying on the path toward a four-year degree.

Student-athlete success.

PNW’s Athletics department instituted programs available to all student-athletes to balance the demands of academics and athletics. These programs include academic monitoring and advising, referral services, webinars and personal mentoring. These efforts have helped PNW’s more than 200 student-athletes achieve an average collective grade point average (GPA) of 3.21 last year and keeps them on pace to finish in four years.

Academic coaching.

A key factor of PNW’s on-time graduation gains was Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars program, which contributed to a 17.6 percent increase in one year. According to Christian Trigg, coordinator for PNW’s 21st Century Collegiate Scholars Program, academic coaches helped Scholar students identify barriers to success, plan successful solutions, foster leadership opportunities, learn to think critically and advocate for themselves.