Winston-Salem State University works to improve graduation rates

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.-- Winston-Salem State University is working on several new ideas to improve graduation rates that university officials admit they are not proud of.

In recent years, 4 year graduation rates have dropped to just above 13%. 6 year graduation rates, a more commonly used measure of success for colleges these days, are at just above 40%. 

The school would like both numbers to increase so over the past year campus officials have set a goal to identify student challenges and help more succeed.

Dr. Kathy Stitts with the campus "UCaLL" or University College and Lifelong Learning Program says they have already begun working on several things like, "living on campus for students, financial aid for students and support services that will greatly enhance retention" to improve graduation rates.

The campus is spending millions building new residence halls.

The goal is to keep more students on campus and integrate them into the campus community and their education.

Officials say if you can keep students engaged for their first two years, then they are more likely to succeed.

Some students like senior Jeremy Lee, agree saying, "I will say my first two years were successful because I stayed on campus."
Winston-Salem State is also adding more advising opportunities, improving faculty staff and student relationships and monitoring academic success. 

Students making below 70 on tests and quizzes are required to seek outside help at university counseling centers.

"We have to make sure we have the right faculty in place right resources in place and that we get students motivated enough," says Dr. Stitts.

Lastly, the school is helping students who struggle paying for tuition by giving them alternatives.

Students and administrators say a big reason students drop out is money; more than 87% are on financial aid.

"College is expensive and it is only getting higher and higher and financial aid is getting fewer in current days," says Jeremy Lee.

Winston-Salem State is hoping the new measures will improve the 6 year graduation rate to more than 43% over the next 4 years.