Surging tuition costs and dismal graduation rates at some universities have many families scrambling to finance their children’s higher education.
In response, Baldwin Wallace University is introducing a Four-Year Graduation Guarantee that enables students to earn their degree in four years, or have the College pay for up to one year of additional tuition for the extra time it takes them to finish.
Starting with the 2012 incoming freshman class, BW is offering its Graduation Guarantee as a way to help families avoid higher education costs associated with postponed graduation.
Graduation Guarantee is First of its Kind in Northeast Ohio
At many universities, the majority of students take five, six or more years to earn their bachelor’s degree. In addition to paying for additional years of tuition, room/board and incidental costs, students facing postponed graduation can have lost earnings potential related to delayed career entry.
These losses can amount to $28,000-60,000 a year due to an inability to enter the workplace in a timely manner. (Average starting salaries as reported by Employers Resource Association 2011 Survey Series for its members in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.)
BW’s Four-Year Graduation Guarantee is the first of its kind in northeast Ohio. It is a student-friendly program that does not require participants to start college with a backlog of AP credits, go to summer school or forgo the opportunity to participate in co-curricular activities, take internships or study abroad. Instead, it allows students to stay on track by helping them effectively manage their college experience.
Preparing Students for Post-graduation Success
“College is one of the most significant investments a family will make,” emphasized Janet Stocks, associate academic dean for Baldwin Wallace. “An incoming freshman probably doesn’t anticipate having to stay more than four years at a university. But it happens quite frequently to the dismay of both the student and his/her parents. In fact, at many of Ohio’s public universities only one-third of the incoming class may graduate in four years.”
As the spearhead for BW’s Graduation Guarantee, Stocks spent considerable time designing a program that would not only help students achieve timely graduation, but would do so in a way that was flexible enough to be manageable.
“One way to dramatically cut the cost of higher education is to have students finish in four years,” she noted. “Among students who stay four years at BW, approximately 90 percent finished their bachelor’s degree in eight semesters or less.
“To us, students, their families and the College are partners in education,” continued Stocks. “The Four-Year Graduation Guarantee is one of many initiatives we offer that helps students gain the resources they need to succeed both at BW and beyond – whether their post-graduation plans include employment, graduate school, service or other opportunity.
Program that Helps Students Stay Focused
The Four-Year Graduation Guarantee is optional. Students participating in the program fulfill certain academic and social expectations:
- Come to BW ready to do college-level work.
- Sign the Four-Year Graduation Guarantee agreement before they begin their first semester freshman classes at BW. (Specific requirements of the guarantee agreement may vary by major.) Students do not need to commit to a major to participate in the Guarantee. Most students declare a major by spring of the sophomore year. However, some programs may require an earlier declaration.
- Use the BW Graduation Plan (a software tool that helps students to plan their academic schedule and experiential learning opportunities) and meet with an academic advisor.
- Be a full-time student and remain in good academic standing.
- Participate in a select number of educational programs designed to ensure academic success. Students must also agree to allow the College to notify their parents/guardians of grades and academic records.