Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Student success is measured beyond graduation rates

Caroline Puckett

As an R1 HSI institution, UTSA is proud to provide pathways for all students to attain their dream of a college degree. To do this, UTSA remains fundamentally committed to developing the resources needed at every step of a student’s academic journey.

Over the last decade, UTSA’s efforts to support student success have resulted in a 28% increase in undergraduate degrees awarded and a 21-point improvement in six-year graduation rates. Similarly, the average time to degree has decreased by one full year, and the average loan debt has decreased by nearly $5,000. UTSA students come from a variety of lived experiences that shape the time needed to complete their degrees, making our six-year graduation rate more reflective of our student success. We are proud to serve a broad community that includes students in the top half of their graduating class, active military students, working students and students who choose to extend their studies to take advantage of learning opportunities that provide additional experience to prepare them for life after graduation. 

UTSA has repeatedly received recognition for our efforts to improve student outcomes. In September, UTSA jumped 92 spots in the U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Colleges. Contributing to the jump were new ranking criteria that placed a greater emphasis on social mobility and outcomes. In 2022, UTSA was named one of four national finalists for the Degree Completion Award by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, an award that recognizes public institutions that are increasing graduation rates while also improving educational quality and access. 

While UTSA’s efforts in these areas are ongoing, increased graduation rates are only part of the overall story. Engagement, well-being and career-readiness are also indicators of student success. Academic advisors play a pivotal role in a student’s educational experience, and UTSA has strategically redesigned advising services to help students thrive academically and reduce barriers to degree completion. 

To assist students where they need it most, UTSA developed a centralized support and resource-sharing model that includes support centers in every college. These centers provide tailored services and opportunities for engagement to keep students on track for graduation.

Augmenting these efforts is the Graduation Help Desk. Since its establishment in 2017, the Graduation Help Desk has served over 6,000 students, including nearly 3,500 graduates, creating an estimated $4.7 million in savings.

Over the last five years, UTSA’s commitment to supporting our first-generation population has resulted in a six-percentage point increase in the six-year graduation rate and a 25% increase in the number of degrees awarded to first-gen students. UTSA’s First to Go & Graduate Program promotes academic success, persistence and graduation through peer mentorship and tailored curricula, and the First-Generation Living Learning Community fosters a sense of belonging for first-gen peers who live and engage together on campus. 

As each student success initiative is developed, the work becomes operationalized and the commitment and effort continue. UTSA’s dedication to student retention, persistence and success is not limited by a timeline or a single initiative. As reflected in our strategic destinations, UTSA strives to be a model for student success. It permeates all our work and remains our top priority. 

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About the Contributor
Caroline Puckett
Caroline Puckett, Graphic Artist
Caroline (she/her) is a graduate student from Brownsville, Texas studying Health, Community and Policy. She is a passionate artist with a love for graphic design and illustration. On any given day, you will find Caroline re-watching her favorite shows, drawing in her sketchbook or crocheting tote bags.

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