Graduation rates at Rutgers remain well above the national average
More than 80 percent of students graduate within 6 years
Nearly 59 percent of Rutgers students graduate in four years and 80.2 percent graduate in six, according to Courtney McAnuff, the vice president of Enrollment Management at Rutgers.
McAnuff broke the numbers down by demographics and said that in six years, 70 percent of Hispanic students will graduate, 81 percent of white students, more than 80 percent of Asian students and more than 70 percent of Black students will all receive their degree.
These numbers are all above the national average for public universities, which reflects well on the Rutgers student body, McAnuff said.
“New Brunswick is really selective and many of our students work, very few can afford to go full time without other income, so this reflects really well on the students here,” he said.
McAnuff said that financial issues are what get a lot of Rutgers students in trouble, and many students are not aware of the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirement, and the consequences that dropping a lot of classes could have.
“Satisfactory Academic Progress is a requirement for all students receiving federal, state or University assistance while enrolled at Rutgers. Financial aid recipients must meet both a qualitative and a quantitative standard to maintain eligibility for aid. In addition, the student must complete the program within the maximum timeframe,” according to the Office of Financial Aid website.
McAnuff said that GPA is not the only factor that decides whether students receive financial aid. This is also decided by whether candidates stay on track to graduate.
If a student registered for 15 credits but then drops two classes and gets a 4.0, they are technically still a 4.0 student even if they are only enrolled in 9 credits. But, this puts the student off-track to graduate on time, which falls under the quantitative standard in SAP, McAnuff said.
If a student falls behind, they risk losing financial aid.
“If you’re not finishing 30 credits a year you can’t finish in four years. Every additional year costs about $65,000 to $70,000," McAnuff said. "Forty-five thousand dollars in potential earnings and $25,000 indirect cost of school. Students often don't think about it that way but they are giving up a job."
But taking a gap year does not have to be a bad thing, said Jemila Sterling, a School of Arts and Sciences senior who has taken three gap years.
Sterling said that a combination of family, financial and personal health issues led her to take time off from Rutgers.
“It was kind of a back-to-back-to-back thing, so I wanted to focus on initially taking time to not stress. Then also working on my personal, physical and emotional health,” Sterling said.
Sterling said her gap years led to her working in a variety of places, such as Merrill Lynch and Johnson & Johnson and gave her some valuable real-world experience that she now uses to direct her academic pursuits.
Looking back on her gap years, Sterling said she believes taking time off from school to work was the right decision.
She said that finishing in four years is a straight shot to getting your degree, but will limit your opportunity to gain experience outside of the classroom. It is crucial to understand how important it is to not only get a degree but to gain real-world experience along the way.
McAnuff agreed with that idea, and said that a gap year can be beneficial if a student uses it wisely.
“Public service, assisting people, working or just understand where you are, I think those are beneficial to students. I think if students spent six months in certain (less fortunate) places around the world, they would really appreciate the opportunities here,” McAnuff said.
Sterling said that her gap years have given her a better perspective on school and her future. She now knows she does not want to work in the corporate world after graduating, but instead wants to work in the nonprofit field.
“There shouldn’t be a time limit to somebody completing their education. You need to make sure you’re emotionally ready to do it,” she said.
Rutgers has some initiatives in the works to continue to help students as they move toward graduation, McAnuff said.
One project the chancellor is working on is a one-stop-shop that will give students the ability to go to a singular place for any non-academic issue, McAnuff said. Those issues could be anything from parking to financial aid.
“We are aware of the graduation rate that the best universities in the country have,” McAnuff said. “We think we're at the top of the public university chain, and think we can still do better.”
Ryan Stiesi is a junior in the School of Arts and Sciences. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.