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Marquette has much higher student retention and graduation rates than other colleges and universities across the nation, according to a recent study by Complete College America, an organization working to increase the number of Americans with college degrees.

The study shows that just over half of students who start a full-time four-year bachelor’s degree program at a public university finish within six years.

Alexandra Riley, associate director of the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, said Marquette has very high graduation and retention rates compared with its peers.

Riley said more than 89 percent of Marquette freshman who started in fall 2010 returned in fall 2011. This is much higher than other private colleges and universities, where the freshman retention average is 79 percent. Riley said other Jesuit institutions typically have freshman retention rates between 87 and 88 percent.

Regarding the six-year graduation rate of students at private colleges, Riley said it is around 64 to 65 percent. She said for other Jesuit institutions, the six year graduation rate is about 76 to 78 percent.

Anna Deahl, associate vice provost for academic support programs and retention at Marquette said high graduation and retention rates are a point of pride for Marquette. She said the university’s selectivity and quality of students the university attracts contributes to the high graduation rates.

“Everyone that goes to (a college or university) does not want a degree,” Deahl said. “Marquette is a four-year institution where most students are intent upon getting a degree.”

Deahl also said although the university consistently has high graduation rates, it is constantly working to improve.

Marquette made significant changes in the Office of Student Educational Services this year to help students succeed.

The tutoring program expanded with a larger staff to accommodate more students. This is the largest academic support program offered at Marquette, Deahl said.

Karen Desotelle, director of Student Educational Services, said more than 1,450 students requested to take part in the program this semester.

Individual academic support counseling and resources for students on academic probation also increased.

Desotelle said student educational services wants to be more proactive in reaching out to students in at-risk demographics.

“Our long term goal is to bring together as many academic support programs into one office as possible,” Deahl said.

Combining offices will allow students who want or need help to walk into one office and not need to figure out where they need to go.

Deahl said the university is working to be more proactive and catch students before they begin to falter academically.

“We want to make it clear that it is not a bad thing to ask for help,” she said.

Deahl also said retaining students at Marquette is not just on an academic level but across the board. It is not just the work of one office, but a holistic approach, and students must be satisfied socially and academically in order to stay in school, she said.

“Marquette does a good job in picking students with potential,” Desotelle said. “Our job is to help students find their potential.”

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