|Obama speech focused on students|
|Written by Katie Klein, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Friday, 07 October 2011 00:13|
College students played an integral part in President Barack Obama’s third annual back-to-school speech delivered late last month, where he stressed the importance of graduating college with a degree.
During his speech, Obama said the United States is ranked sixteenth in the world for amount of young people with degrees and that “just getting into college isn’t enough.”
Research has shown current national graduation rates have continued to slip. During his State of the University address, President Al Bowman explained that ISU is going against the trend by continuing to improve in graduation and retention rates.
“I noted that according to the Chronicle Almanac, from 2003 to 2008, Illinois State’s graduation rate rose a whopping 11 percent. Among all of the public research universities in these United States, only five bettered that 11 percent leap,” Bowman said.
Of those five schools, only one had a higher graduation rate than ISU, which, Bowman added, is simply remarkable.
The New York Times reported most college dropouts leave because of financial problems and after that, others leave because they can’t afford tuition and fees. Daniel Layzell, vice president of finance and planning, explained how ISU is helping with this problem.
“This year for example, ISU set aside $8 million to supplement the MAP awards received by our most financially needy students. Also, beginning this year, President Bowman authorized setting aside $500,000 annually over the next four years to provide merit-aid to academically talented incoming students,” Layzell said.
Most of those incoming students are high school seniors who are getting ready for the SATs and filling out college applications. This is a critical time for college-bound students since it is now more about going to college and actually graduating with a degree. ISU’s laboratory school, University High School, is helping students by preparing them for college the best they can.
“[UHS] has a series of standardized tests the kids go through which identifies their strengths and weaknesses along with career pathways. We tell them certain jobs they are interested in require a college degree so they are prepared to go into college knowing they need to graduate in order to be in that profession,” Jeff Hill, UHS principal, said.
Hill added UHS’s requirements, curriculum and the freedom of an open campus also help the students to prepare for college. The next step is to follow through with students until they can don a cap and gown, with which ISU has stayed successful.