Graduation rates low compared to Ohio Five schools

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

At Ohio Wesleyan University, the six-year graduation rate is 61 percent, staggeringly low compared to the national graduation rate of 64 percent.

OWU’s graduation rate is behind almost all small liberal arts schools in Ohio, with the average for private universities floating at 70 percent or higher. Denison University, a member of the Ohio Five and rival of OWU, weighs its graduation rate at 81 percent

“When I first got here, I was told within the first week of classes to get ready to see a lot of my friends leave,” said junior Stephen Telepak. “I’ve known at least one friend personally who has failed out every semester since then.”

The cause of the lower then average graduation rates could also be attributed to tuition costs, according to senior Matthew Wasserman.

“Most of the students you ask will say they came to OWU for the scholarship, but tuition rates keep going up and the amount of scholarship you get typically does not.”  Wasserman said.   “Either you get a job on campus to offset your post grad debt, or you find somewhere that can make you a better offer.”

Despite the financial burden of college life, the university has made strides to help students graduate on time and improve graduation rates.  According to Dr. Dale Swartzentruber, the associate provost for institutional research, the four-year graduation rate for students who arrived in the fall of 2009 and graduated in 2013 was 64.3 percent.  This increase shows tangible results of improvement over the recent years.

“I think that since president Rock Jones got here, he has done a good job giving more attention and allocating resources to help students graduate, and that is a good sign that we are headed in the right direction,” said assistant director of admissions Steven Johanson.

“Personally when I am recruiting new students, I show them all the great opportunities OWU has to offer and we hope that students take full advantage.”

Johanson pointed out that many OWU students are very active in clubs outside of classes, and that admissions have emphasized looking for potential students that have already shown the ability to balance academics and extracurricular activities.

“Our goal is to have every student who enrolls graduate in four years, and while meeting that 100 percent isn’t realistic, I think our efforts to bridge that gap will continue to show positive results,” Johanson said.

Because OWU’s graduation rates are staggering compared to those of other Ohio five schools, Telepak said he thinks students should take even greater pride in their accomplishments during college and their abilities to graduate despite academic, financial and personal obstacles.

“When I get my degree I’ll feel an extra sense of pride, not just because of the piece of paper, but how hard it was to get it,” Telepak said.

“After seeing so many fall, I appreciate even more the work I put in over these four years.”

Winter weather freezes renovations

Construction workers continued stage three of the renovations on the JAYwalk on Tuesday, March 18. Construction across campus has been stalled due to the extreme winter temperatures. Photo by Jane Suttmeier

Maintenance work and repairs to buildings have stopped cold while the winter weather caused damages to campus grounds.

Peter Schantz, head of Buildings and Grounds, said the weather limited the number of days exterior repairs could be made.

He also said the above average number of snowfalls and subsequent plowing has damaged some walkways and grounds.

“We have been inspecting these areas for damage as the snow melts,” Schantz said.

President Rock Jones said the delayed repairs are being addressed as needed by Buildings and Grounds.

“We have developed a lengthy list of deferred maintenance needs and have prioritized those needs according to the potential risk to the building and those who work and study in each building,” Jones said.

Jones said the annual budget for deferred maintenance is limited but a long-range budget model is being developed to provide more support for deferred maintenance.

Schantz said the renovations at Edwards Gymnasium, Elliott Hall, Merrick Hall and the student residential facilities will make a significant reduction in the campus backlog of deferred maintenance.

Jones said the cold weather revealed a vulnerable aspect of the fire suppression system design in Elliott Hall.

The suppression system has since been renovated and other buildings have been under inspection.

“We continue to monitor all of our buildings in an effort to do everything possible to avoid the kinds of damages suffered in the Elliott flood,” Jones said.

Schantz said there is a silver lining to the extremely cold temperatures because there have not been many leaky roofs on campus.

“Most of these problems occur in late winter when repeated freeze -thaw cycles cause ice dams. For the most part, it got cold and stayed that way all winter,” Schantz said.