Illinois State and Illinois Wesleyan universities continue to have graduation rates well above the national average, according to recently compiled figures.
The U.S. Department of Education considers the graduation rate to be the percentage of full-time, first-time students who graduate from a college within six years.
For students who entered ISU in fall 2007, the graduation rate was 71.5 percent — the highest rate in the school’s recent history and an increase of 2.7 percentage points in the last five years, according to university officials.
Among IWU’s incoming class of six years ago, the graduation rate was 78 percent — down slightly from the usual mark in the low 80s, said Michael Thompson, IWU’s assistant vice president for institutional research, planning and evaluation.
Scott Wignall, Eureka College registrar, said the graduation rate for students who began in fall 2007 is 60.6 percent, an increase over the three years.
“We’re definitely moving in the right direction,” Wignall said.
Troy Johnson, ISU’s associate vice president of enrollment management, said a graduation rate of 71.5 percent and above generally puts a school in the top 10 percent of public and private universities. Thompson said the national average is about 56 percent or 57 percent.
The U.S. Department of Education website is not being updated during the federal government shutdown, so figures are unavailable to determine where ISU and IWU will rank in the latest report.
Both Johnson and Thompson pointed to the caliber of their students as one reason for their strong graduation rates.
“Our students come with a focus on finishing,” Johnson said. “When you’re on a campus that has that as a culture … it makes a difference. The whole learning environment is affected.”
He said the ISU’s focus on undergraduate education as its mission also contributes to a high graduation rate.
Thompson said the same of IWU: “We do a good job of recruiting people who really want to be here.”
He said IWU seeks students who are academically qualified, who have a good chance to be successful and for whom the school is the right place, right size and right environment.
The resources and services offered by the school also contribute to that success, Thompson said.