IN THIS ISSUE
Four Year Grad Plan
The first group of students who enrolled in the Four-Year Graduation Plan as first-year students is nearing graduation. The plan guaranteed that if students followed certain rules (not dropping classes, no late changes of major), the University would guarantee that classes they need to graduate in four years would be available. Later this spring, the University will have its first look at how well the new plan has succeeded, both for the participating students and for the University. We asked President Mary Sue Coleman to tell us early results and to discuss other topics.
Q: Let's begin with the Four-Year Graduation Plan. Do we have figures on how many students in the plan will graduate this year? What can you tell us?
A: We've been studying these
students fairly intensively, now that we're in the fourth year.
Everything that we see about the plan indicates it has helped
students get into the classes they need. Also, students become
more aware of the necessity for internships and for study abroad
because there's more discussion when they're first year students.
I believe that may be why those numbers are up.
Q: Students who graduate in four years save a year's college costs and get to their careers or graduate study more quickly. How does it help the institution?
A: It certainly helps us plan for courses. When we know students' academic goals, then we can project what we're going to need to do in terms of offerings. It also helps us gauge the numbers of students who are going to want internships and study abroad. All those, it seems like to me, are positives.
Q: How can parents help their students as they try to decide on their future career plan and whether to remain in the Four-Year Graduation Plan?
A: Parents have a huge influence, whether or not they believe it, and some of the unspoken issues are as powerful as those that are spoken. I think for parents to remember that is important. I think what parents can do is reinforce the notion that it's good for students to start thinking about these issues early on. A lot of times students want to discuss their career ideas with parents and parents can be open to those discussions. They may not have all the answers, but I just think the notion of asking your student, 'What are you learning? What are your plans? What areas is the University opening up for you?' can lead to some very positive interactions between students and parents. And I think parents reinforcing the four-year plan can be a great help.
Q: A few months ago, we announced that the Iowa Advantage program had been introduced to get students thinking about careers early in the first year at Iowa. How has that worked?
A: This is a career development
pilot program that enrolled 65 students this fall, half of them
first-year students, representing a wide range of majors. Students
discuss job readiness, how to make the transition from individuality
to team player, community issues, and diversity. The students
are using some really interesting software that helps them think
about careers and what they need to do to prepare themselves
for those careers.
Q: We're in our fourth year now of having three summer sessions-a three-week intensive session at the beginning of summer, a six-week session, and an overlapping eight-week session. Is that working?
A: The three-week summer session
has been quite interesting. We've gone from 860 students with
42 sections of classes in the first year (1996), to 1,394 students
in 1998 with 76 course sections. In 1999, we're planning to offer
89 sections because of an expected increase. So we feel pretty
good about that.
Q: What did students like about it? Do they prefer the three- week session to the longer ones?
A: I think they liked the fact
that they're able to take a course and keep on track, and that
they're able to concentrate on one subject without distraction.
It really gives them a good experience. The other question we
asked was: "How would you rate your three-week summer session
experience compared with the experience during the regular year?"
Fifty percent said it was better, which was quite interesting;
36 percent said it was about the same. So again, we have approval
and enthusiasm for that concept.
Q: Do you have any other comments that we haven't asked about?
A: I just feel like the year has gone extremely well, a lot of positive things have been happening among the students, and I look forward to spring.