KOKOMO, Ind. — The path to a college degree may seem confusing to an incoming student. Indiana University Kokomo offers students a clear map to guide them through the planning process, where students can direct their courses of study to graduate in four years.
The campus kicked off its "Complete In 4" initiative this fall semester, presenting each student with a "Class of 2016" button to wear as a reminder. Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke said while campus leaders understand some students will take longer to graduate because of work and family obligations, they want students to plan ahead and make graduating in four years a priority.
"We want to make it clear to students it is both doable and in their best interests to graduate in four years," she said.
Sciame-Giesecke then led the new students through the campus undergraduate pledge, which says they will graduate by becoming involved in activities, reaching out to faculty, asking questions when they need help, disciplining themselves to make college a priority, using campus resources, attending every class, talking to their advisors regularly, and engaging in class discussions and activities.
Returning students also received graduation year buttons, while faculty and staff have ones that read, "What year will you graduate?" to remind students of the goal.
In addition to the pins, students can pick up cards with QR codes to access degree maps, showing specific classes they can take each semester in order to graduate in four years. The degree maps are also available on the campus website, www.iuk.edu.
Degree maps were created to make it easy for students to know exactly what classes they need to complete a degree in four years. Amanda Smith, who plans to graduate with a degree in psychology in 2013, developed a degree map with her advisor.
"Planning ahead has made scheduling my classes on time in order to graduate in four years much easier," she said. "These new resources make it seem less overwhelming. It helps you know you can achieve your goal. I'm excited to be so close to being done."
She encouraged all students to meet with their advisors to develop their own custom degree maps, so they know when classes are offered and can take them when they are available.
"The whole purpose is to remind students that while we love them dearly, we'd also love to see them graduate," said Kathy Parkison, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs. "The longer it takes a student to graduate, the more student load debt he or she accumulates and the less likely they are to earn a degree. We want them to graduate and move on with successful lives."
Complete In 4 is funded by a $30,000 grant from Complete College America, a national nonprofit organization that works with states to increase college completion. The grant will be used for student advising resources, course mapping software and development of three-year degree programs in education and business.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.