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San Antonio’s Public Universities Report Record Graduating Classes

"Graduation Caps"
John Walker | http://bit.ly/2oIkGSU
Flickr Creative Commons

Almost 950 students graduated from Texas A&M University-San Antonio Friday afternoon. More than 5,100 students will walk the stage to celebrate earning their degrees from the University of Texas at San Antonio this weekend.

Officials from both universities say the graduating classes are the largest in their schools’ history.

As a young and growing university, Texas A&M-San Antonio’s record is tied to growing enrollment. UTSA isn’t gaining students as rapidly, but officials said they are doing a better job at helping their existing students graduate.

“We’re starting to see the impacts of all the work that we’ve done over the last several years,” said Tammy Wyatt, vice-provost of student success at UTSA.

She said the university began making changes five years ago to help more students graduate, and those changes are starting to bear fruit.

In 2014, UTSA assigned a dedicated advisor to each student and created a first year program that connected new students with peer mentors. In 2016, the university launched an online degree planning tool and tasked advisors with ensuring that more than 90 percent of students were using the tool. And in 2018, UTSA added a graduation help desk for one-on-one problem solving.

If a student needs a particular class to graduate but they weren’t able to sign up for the class, Wyatt said they can go to the help desk to find a solution.

Staff members at the help desk track the issues students bring to them and use the data to make policy changes, such as adding another section of a course.

UTSA’s six-year graduation rate for students who start at the university as freshman has grown by nearly 13 percentage points over the last decade, from 27 percent to 40 percent.

“We understand that our numbers are lower,” Wyatt said. “Our goal is to meet the national average (of 60 percent). President Eighmy has our goal for our six-year graduation rate to be 60 percent by 2023, and we’re well on our way to reach that goal.”

UTSA’s four-year graduation rate for transfer students has also grown from 52 percent in 2014 to 63 percent in 2018.

Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@TPR.org and on Twitter at @cmpcamille.

Camille Phillips can be reached at camille@tpr.org or on Instagram at camille.m.phillips. TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.