The New Jersey state colleges and universities strive to:
- Provide more New Jersey students with a degree that lives up to the highest standards of educational and ethical excellence
- Make degree attainment more affordable
- Increase overall institutional efficiency
- Help students graduate on time with the tools to succeed in their chosen careers
According to a new study by the National Student Clearinghouse, the overall six-year completion rate for first-time, degree-seeking college students who first enrolled in 2008 was 55 percent.
The 2015 data for U.S. four-year public institutions is as follows: the six-year completion rate for first-time, degree-seeking college students who first enrolled in 2008 was 62.9 percent. In New Jersey, the four-year public institutional, six-year completion rate for first-time degree-seeking college students who first enrolled in 2008 as 73.3 percent, ranking fifth among all 50 states, closely following Iowa, New Hampshire, Virginia, Vermont. Such rates include students who may complete degrees at other institutions.
Here are some examples of progress toward the stated goals at the state colleges and universities:
THE COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY
- Winter term expansion provides learning opportunities and potentially improve TCNJ's aleady high graduation rates.
- The mid-year admissions cohort enhanced by offering provisional admission to freshman students.
- Several academic programs, including ones in STEM and Public Administration, are combined undergraduate/graduate, allowing students who meet certain GPA and academic requirements to proceed into graduate programs without applying.
- The Kean University Foundation is continuing its We Are Here for the Students campaign to raise additional funds for need-based scholarships. The foundation has sought to foster a new culture of giving back among faculty and staff.
- Counseling has been improved to ensure that students better understand what classes they need to take to graduate in a timely manner.
MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY
- MSU is the first public university in the state to adopt an SAT/ACT test-optional policy, based on data showing that high school performance and GPA are better predictors of student success than standardized test scores.
- Its Road to Graduation initiative ensures that all students -- including freshmen, transfer students, veterans and adult learners -- receive guidance from orientation through graduation.
- More than 20 accelerated five-year combined bachelor's/master's degree programs giving students the opportunity to earn a master's degree quickly and cost-effectively.
- A fully online platform for master's degree programs in Child Advocacy and Policy and Educational Leadership is a model for the planned rollout of additional online programs.
- The university's service-learning program has grown and evolved into the new Center for Community Engagement, which has received millions of dollars in grant money to support its students and faculty in assisting nearby community schools to improve the education and lives of pupils and their families.
- The number of evening, weekend, summer and winter session courses have increased to more than 800, and the university now offers additional hybrid and fully online courses to provide students with greater scheduling flexibility.
- Its partnership with Cumberland County College includes new four-year degree completion programs via distance and on-site delivery; the university also collaborates with Bergen Community College so that associate degree students in the STEM disciplines can transfer to Montclair State's bachelor's degree programs without the loss of time or credit.
- Through the Center for Global Education's Teaching in English Program, Montclair State faculty members have trained hundreds of colleagues at institutions throughout Asia and Europe to teach their disciplines and conduct advanced research in English.
NEW JERSEY CITY UNIVERSITY
- According to rankings by U.S. News & World Report, NJCU students graduate with the lowest debt burden among all public collegse and universities in New Jersey. This supports the contention that an NJCU education is a great return on investment.
- Music Business program is ranked in the top 10 in the U.S. according to Billboard magazine, the world's premier music trade publication. NJCU is the place for students to learn about the "music biz" with hands-on experience, taught by world-class teachers from the industry.
- A new general studies curriculum reduces the number of general studies credits required for degree completion from 66 to 44. This initiative reduces tuition costs and financial responsibilities, accelerates degree completion time, and allows undergraduates to broaden their academic experience by incorporating study across the disciplines to foster critical thinking, enhance communications skills, and encourage teamwork.
- The number of credits required for graduation was changed to 120 from 128, accelerating degree completion time, reducing the tuition costs, and permitting graduates to be credentialed and ready to enter the workforce or pursue graduate studies sooner than in previous years.
- The School Psychology Program has been nationally recognized by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and the Council for Accreditation of Educator Professionals (CAEP). The NASP Program Approval Board voted for "Full Approval" of the program through 2019. Program graduates are readily certified as school psychologists in New Jersey and New York; becoming a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) allows graduates to practice as school psychologists in most other states. NJCU program graduates have qualified for the NCSP, continuously since 2005.
- The NJCU Foundation and the university have together designated $2.2 million in scholarships to enable students to focus more fully on their studies. In addition, funds have been made available from the Foundation to support learning.
- In the current academic year 19 faculty from prestigious international public and private universities, including Oxford, were hired in areas identified as critical to meeting academic needs in high-demand fields of study: nursing, STEM, business, counseling, and pre-law.
- Working with the Education Advisory Board (EAB) on a national Student Success Collaborative project to develop predictive analytics, NJCU intends to improve retention and graduation rates. NJCU is participating in the development of a database that will improve student persistence and improve student success outcomes.
- NJCU is in the fourth year of a five-year plan that will enhance science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs and bolster articulation initiatives with nearby community colleges, allowing students holding associate-level degrees to complete baccalaureate degrees in STEM programs at NJCU. Thanks to a $9-million Title V Grant from the U.S. Department of Education, NJCU is focusing on twin program goals; increasing the number of science majors and improving the persistence, retention, and graduation rates of science majors at the university.
- To maximize students' potential for academic success, NJCU opened The Hub, a centralized location for tutoring and tutoring services in its Congressman Frank J. Guarini Library, in January 2015. Peer tutoring and supplemental instruction are in the Hub. NJCU offers a variety of strong academic support programs designed to help students succeed by developing their information literacy, written and oral communication, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and study skills.
- NJCU, Passaic County Community College (PCCC), Essex County College (ECC), and the Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC) have partnered to create an innovative, one-year RN-BSN program with a concurrent 900-hour, nursing residency component. The program will expand an ethnically-diverse, competent nursing workforce, increase access to quality health care, and transition ethnically-diverse nurses into community health settings.
- The program is funded by a three-year, Workforce Diversity Grant for $897,000 awarded to NJCU from the Bureau of Health Professions of the Health Resources and Service Administration of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
RAMAPO COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY
- The freshman class in Fall 2014 was the largest in its history.
- A Master's in Special Education is coming in Fall 2015.
- A new second degree completion program, with a specialty in organizational communications that launched in fall 2014. The program focuses on how information is created, managed, distributed, and consumed. Students will engate in coursework in four key areas: business and non-profit communication, written communication, persuasion and oral communication, and visual communication, with opportunities in business, government, and non-profit administration.
- It ranks among the top four public and private institutions of higher learning in the state in four-year, and six-year graduation rates.
- Two new academic policies streamline students' time to degree attainment as well as help keep students on track with their degree goals. First, students must declare their major by the time they reach 64 credits. After students have completed their general education requirements, they have decided on the degree path they want to pursue and begin to work on meeting its requirements. The college also requires all students to coplete two core courses as well as any developmental courses attached to those courses so that students have the required skills and competencies to be successful in their upper-level core requirements. These two courses are Critical Reading and Writing 102 and General Education Mathematics.
- Four-year plans for each of its academic major offerings are posted on the web and introduced to students during orientation, guide students' understanding of their degree requirements and help them chart and track their progress.
- In the fourth year of a five year academic advisement development plan, students must meet with their assigned advisor in their first, second, third, and sixth semesters to review their academic four-year plan, discuss plans for participating in extended experiential learning activities (internship, co-op, study abroad) before graduation. The first class in Ramapo's history to go through a multi-stage, mandatory advisement program was the class of 2015. Each of the touch points of the advisement plan contains intentional student learning outcomes created by a campus-wide Academic Advisement Council which includes faculty representatives from each of the college's five schools and professional advisor representatives from various campus units.
- Software programs now track student success. During the first year, all faculty and instructors who have first-year students and all Educational Opportunity Fund and Specialized Services students are asked to submit progress surveys on a student performance in the classroom that might be key indicators that a student is struggling early on in the semester or that the student needs additional assistance. Built into the early alert system is an automatic referral process to Ramapo's Center for Reading and Writing, where instructors can refer students for help with their writing and an automatic appointment is generated. The software also has a "close the loop" capability, allowing assigned professional advisors know when outreach has been made and discuss follow-up plans. In its first iteration, Ramapo faculty has a 62.5% participation rate, far outpacing the average participation reported by the software designer (42%).
- Its first living learning community program targeted undeclared students. The program, which links two general education requirements together to explore thematic learning connections across disciplines, also places students on the same floor of housing with their classmates. This intentional connection of living and learning allows more targeted academic programming in the residence halls and enables students to assimilate quicker. Plans are underway for an expansion of the living learning community to larger groups of first-year students to allow for similar synergies and targeted programming to be offered to more first-year students.
- Its first Director of Student Success, hired in 2012-2013, is responsible for overseeing the areas of academic advising, first-year experience, testing and the peer mentorship program. The synergies provided by merging these areas under one director allows Ramapo to focus its energies on student success and keeps student success at the forefront of all four of those fronts.
- The most recent phase of its Academic Advisement Plan, instituted in spring 2014, is a mandatory advisement session that serves as a graduation check-in. It allows students to discuss their course schedule with their advisor, to determine which additional courses might be needed to meet their specific graduation requirements and to discuss post-graduation plans with their faculty advisor.
- Partnering with Philadelphia University and Reliance Medical Group, Stockton is offering a new Atlantic City-based Physician Assistant Program. The five-year program allows graduates to receive their bachelor's degrees from Stockton's School of Health Sciences and their master's in Physician Assistant Studies from Philadelphia University. Similar programs often take six years to complete.
- The University Foundation has increased scholarships and continues to raise funds to benefit students. In 2014-2015, between need-based and merit-based funds, the Foundation is expected to award just over $700,000 to deserving students, up from over $500,000 in scholarships for fiscal year 2013-2014.
- Total financial aid budget is up to $13 million.
- Flat-rate tuition allows undergraduates to take more courses for the same dollar amount and graduate sooner, saving on educational costs, and the costs of housing or commuting. Summer courses at discounted rates also help students graduate early or on time, lowering their cost.
- Dual enrollment program expanded to 17 high schools, allowing students to get a head start and college credit for courses at reduced rates while still in high school. This reduces the credit hours they need for graduation.
- Dual degree and reserve transfer programs with Atlantic Cape Community College and Rowan College at Gloucester County and a guaranteed admissions agreement with Burlington County College reduce the costs and increase degrees earned at the university and colleges.
- Stockton and Rowan universities signed agreements for accelerated dual-degree programs in engineering and osteopathic medicine. Successful graduates will receive a bachelor's degree from Stockton and a graduate degree from either Rowan's School of Engineering or its School of Osteopathic Medicine in a year less than such programs usually require.
THOMAS EDISON STATE UNIVERSITY
- New Jersey Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno was joined by two graduates of Thomas Edison State University to announce the launch of the New Jersey Prior Learning Assessment Network (NJ PLAN) pilot program at the college on July 7, 2014. The college is serving as the anchor institution of the initiative, which will allow students to earn college credits by taking tests or preparing portfolios of their work that document their college-level knowledge. Institutions taking part in NJ PLAN include New Jersey City University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University, Essex County College, Ocean County College and Salem County College.
- Partnering with the Lumina Foundation and six other nonprofit institutions of higher learning that focus on adult learners to explore ways to develop and scale a business model that can be offered nationally to help more nontraditional students leverage their prior learning and complete a college degree. The collaboration is directly aligned with Lumina's Goal 2025, which seeks to increase the proportion of Americans with high-quality college degrees, certificates or other credentials to 60 percent by 2025.
- TESU was selected to participate in American Council on Education's Alternative Credit Consortium, an initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aimed at increasing attainment levels for nontraditional learners with some college but no degree. The consortium will focus on creating more flexible pathways that help students complete their college degrees.
- Its partnership with the Saylor Academy was expanded by aligning more closely with Saylor's Earn College Credit Program, which enables students to earn up to 78 credits without paying course tuition that can be transferred and applied to an undergraduate degree at the College. The program has the potential of saving New Jersey students approximately $5,900 in tuition costs and out-of-state students approximately $8,000 in tuition costs for those who are able to apply all 34 credits toward an undergraduate degree at the college.
WILLIAM PATERSON UNIVERSITY
- Student Success Scholarship, with an investment of $400,000, is for freshmen who complete 30 credits with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and return for their second year.
- Effective Fall 2015, Degree Works, a new advising and degree evaluation system, gives enhanced tools to students and advisors to determine completion of degree requirements and selection of courses.
- Peer Mentor program expanded so that more than 50 percent of course sections have a peer mentor, a best practice designed to engage students, help students persist in class and enhance retention.
- Supplemental instruction increased in courses that have high attrition and/or failure rates. Efforts include peer tutoring, embedded tutoring (tutors are part of the formal course structure), and structured study groups.
- Its advisement system expanded so it deployed professional advisors to the university's five colleges, maintained a core Academic Advisement Center to advise undeclared students, and enhanced advising and other support services for transfer students.
- The Zeta Beta Chapter of the Tau Sigma National Honor Society is designed specifically to recognize and promote the academic excellence and involvement of transfer students. As part of the chapter, students will attend leadership series workshops and participate in community service outreach opportunities.
- Through its Summer First Year Foundation program, provides opportunities, without charge, for incoming students to complete any basic skills requirements prior to entrance into their freshman year, and accelerating time to degree completion. This program has reduced the percentage of students needing fall developmental coursework from 73 percent to 25 percent. Plans are underway to develop programming to serve all students.
- Students with associate degrees have the affordable option to complete one of three baccalaureate degree programs at Mercer County Community College: early childhood education, psychology, and liberal studies.
- An online accelerated winter session enables students to take an additional course during the winter breat between semesters.
- The term options for summer session, now diversified to include 3-week, 4-week, 6-week, and 12-week courses, allow students to take up to four courses, or 12 credits, whichever is greater, during 12 weeks in the summer