Getting that degree: Graduation rates and MAP-Works explained

According to Best Colleges list of 20 Best Women’s Colleges in 2014, St. Kate’s ranked #11 and has a 55% graduation rate. To some, this ranking may be viewed as low and leaves room for wondering why 45% of students are not graduating.

Wellesley College, which scored #1 on the list of 20 Best Women Colleges in 2014, has a 92% graduation rate and a 30% acceptance rate, compared to St. Kate’s, which has a 59% acceptance rate.

“It is not good to compare ourselves to an elite college because they only accept higher ACT scores and have stricter admission requirements,” said Ellen Richter-Norgel, Associate Dean for Students and Retention. “St. Kate’s has a broader acceptance of ACT scores because the college’s mission is acceptance and opportunity. The college looks to give students more opportunities who may not otherwise have them.”

When determining a college’s graduation rate, many factors have to be taken into consideration. Some factors that may affect a student’s goal of graduating within four years may include a change of major, how long it takes the student to graduate, prerequisite classes and more. When all these factors come into the picture, students do not always graduate within four years. In fact, it is not uncommon for students to take five or six years to graduate at St. Kate’s.

“Many students, especially nursing students, use a five-year plan to map out their coursework,” Richter-Norgel said. “In addition, it is common for students to switch their major one or several times throughout their time at St. Kate’s, which sometimes adds on a year to their original four-year plan.”

“When we look at graduation rates, we look at them through what we call a cohort model. The cohort model takes a group of students who started at the same time and keeps track of them until they graduate. The cohort model and 55% graduation rate is based only on full time, first time students,” said Scott Pakudaitis, St. Kate’s Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment, Research Administrator.

When looking at the 2011 American College Test (ACT) National Benchmark Data, which surveys colleges throughout the country, St. Kate’s had a 73.2% two-year retention rate, while the national average retention rate for four-year universities was 69.9%. This data was compiled by ACT from the ACT Institutional Data Questionnaire, an annual online survey of information collected from two-year and four-year postsecondary institutions.

St. Kate’s has recently started using MAP-Works to help students obtain their degrees in as short a time as possible. MAP-Works is a platform that empowers faculty and staff to positively impact student success and retention by identifying at-risk students early in the term.

“When students get invited to take the MAP-Works survey, they should take it. It is used as a predictive tool to identify challenges students are facing,” said Richter-Norgel. “MAP-Works identifies a group of faculty and staff as direct contacts. One of the direct contacts will always be the student’s academic advisor, who will go over the MAP-Works results with the student.”

MAP-Works gives faculty the opportunity to tune into the needs of students and create helpful resources based specifically on those needs. For example, if there is a large number of students who indicate on the survey that they are worried about choosing a major, Career Development can look at those results and create a workshop to cater to those students’ requests.

With the results of the MAP-Works survey, St. Kate’s has identified students who have not decided on a major and created a program called “It’s All About You” that will take place on Monday, Jan. 26th from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Rauenhorst Ballroom. This is a day retreat focused on helping students lay out their future. This program will feature alumni who will speak about their undergraduate majors, why/how they changed their majors, and how they are using their majors today.

The retreat will also require students to complete career assessments that will help them explore their options and define which major best suits their interests, values and skills. The program will end with relaxing yoga, aromatherapy and massage sessions.

St. Kate’s works to accommodate students’ schedules and find the degree plan that is best suited to each individual. For more information regarding degree options, visit the office of Academic Advising (located in Derham Hall) or

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