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Feature

Three male students smiled and held up their Class of 2010 tassels on Northrop Plaza. Behind them is a campus building with pillars and a blue sky and white clouds.

Class of 2010 students held up their tassels after convocation at the Twin Cities campus Sept. 7.

Class of 2010 shows great promise

U reports best-prepared freshman class on record, plus initiatives
and assistance to help them graduate on time

By Jim Thorp

Oct. 17, 2006

Just two months into the 2006-07 academic year, and the class of 2010 is already making history. This year's freshman class is the best prepared in University history, based on average high-school rank and average ACT composite scores.

Strength in numbers


Freshman enrollment at U campuses statewide climbed 4 percent this fall to 8,350. Nearly 40 percent of first-year students are from the top
10 percent of their high-school class. In addition, the Class of 2010 includes: The Class of 2010 is also more diverse than its predecessors: students of color represent 15.7 percent of freshmen--up from 14.6 percent just one year ago. On the Twin Cities campus, students of color represent 20.2 percent of the class, compared to 18.5 percent in 2005. The freshman class at University of Minnesota, Morris (UMM) is the most diverse in the University system with 21.1 percent students of color.

According to Provost Tom Sullivan, these numbers are consistent with the U's strategic positioning goal to recruit, educate, challenge and graduate outstanding students--a critical step toward becoming a top-three public research university.

"For the University to be successful in advancing its strategic goal and our educational mission means admitting students with the best possible chance of graduating with a degree," Sullivan told the Board of Regents Oct. 12.

On the Twin Cities campus, the average ACT score for incoming freshmen was 25.2
--up from 25.1 in 2005.

NEW GRADUATION RATE GOALS

* For the Twin Cities and Morris campuses, the new goals for students graduating in 2012 and later are a four-year graduation rate of 60 percent, a five-year rate of 75 percent, and a six-year rate of 80 percent.

* For the University of Minnesota, Duluth, the goal is a four-year graduation rate of 40 percent, five-year rate of 60 percent and a six-year rate of 65 percent.

* For the University of Minnesota, Crookston, the goal is a four-year graduation rate of 40 percent, five-year rate of 50 percent and a six-year rate of 55 percent.

Student success


The University also established new graduation rate goals--building on improvements that have been made in recent years (see box). On the Twin Cities campus last year, the four-year graduation rate was 36.7 percent, the five-year rate was 56 percent and the six-year rate was 61.2 percent.

Improving four-year graduation rates is important for several reasons, including how these numbers influence the decisions of prospective students and their parents when choosing a college.

"Since focusing on raising graduation rates several years ago, the University has made significant progress in improving the number of students who graduate," said Sullivan. "Today, we're setting that bar higher with new graduation rate goals for all of our four-year campuses."

Earlier this academic year, during New Student Convocation in September, President Robert Bruininks spoke directly to students about the importance of graduating in four years and gave every incoming student a 2010 graduation tassel as a reminder of that goal.

Among the initiatives and programs the U is undertaking to ensure student success and improve graduation rates are a very successful scholarship fundraising drive (studies show that reducing the number of hours that students need to work improves academic performance) and a more hands-on approach to academic advising, including a new graduation planner application to be launched next year.


FURTHER READING U of M Class of 2010 best prepared in history (Oct. 12 news release) University of Minnesota reaches milestones in scholarship drive (Oct. 11 news release) U student named top-10 college woman (Oct. 10)