INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers kicked off a statewide “15 to Finish” campaign that aims to boost college graduation rates by encouraging Hoosier students to take at least 15 credit hours each semester.
Data show that students who complete 15 or more credits per semester are more likely to graduate on time, earn better grades and save money on their degrees.
“We find that most Indiana college students expect to graduate on time, but only about half are taking enough courses each semester to do so,” said Lubbers. “Hoosiers should know that if on-time graduation is their goal, they should be taking 15 to finish. Taking longer to complete not only means that students pay more for their degrees, it also dramatically decreases their chances of graduating at all.”
Based on a successful initiative developed by the University of Hawaii system which saw a 15 percent increase in the number of students taking 15 credits in its first year, Indiana’s “15 to Finish” campaign aims to change the longstanding perception that taking 12 credits per semester is enough to graduate on time through a combination of direct outreach, earned/social media and related resources at15toFinishIndiana.org.
In response to legislation backed by the Commission two years ago that streamlined credit requirements at the state’s public colleges, the majority of bachelor’s degree programs are 120 credits and associate degrees are 60 credits at Indiana colleges today. To graduate on time, students need to complete a minimum of 30 credits per year, or 15 per semester. An analysis of course-taking patterns at Indiana colleges indicates that there are significant numbers of full-time students at every campus who fall short of completing 30 credits each year by only a course or two.
In partnership with the state’s colleges and universities, Indiana’s “15 to Finish” campaign is employing a three-tiered strategy to reach Hoosier students and families at all levels:
1) Prospective college students: The “15 to Finish” message and resources have been incorporated into the state’s outreach efforts with local high schools and counselors through Learn More Indiana (LearnMoreIndiana.org).
2) Current college students: Indiana’s public colleges—and many private colleges—have incorporated the “15 to Finish” messaging, videos and promotional materials into their student orientation and advising practices. Commission staff also have been meeting with academic and financial aid advisors at each Indiana campus to share course-taking data and engage in a dialogue about the campaign’s message.
3) General public: To better leverage the in-school and on-campus efforts described above, the campaign is supported by public service announcements and digital/social media outreach.