In Perspective: Seeking answers to IUSB’s low graduation rates

In Perspective is an ongoing series into the low graduation rates of students from IUSB, enrollment numbers and what the school is doing about the issues.

Staff Writer

Only about one out of every four IU South Bend students will graduate.

That statistic comes from a report being used in Assistant Professor of Management Maria Mendez’s class. The same report says that the national graduation rate average sits at over twice that number at 56%.

The IUSB campus on a Saturday afternoon. Professor Maria Mendez suggests that getting students to connect to campus more often will likely improve graduation rates.  Preface photo/Neil King

The IUSB campus on a Saturday afternoon. Professor Maria Mendez suggests that getting students to connect to campus more often will likely improve graduation rates.
Preface photo/Neil King

The report also says that only 4.7% of IUSB students graduate within four years and that 35% of freshmen drop out before their second year.

These numbers aren’t a rare thing, according to Mendez. She said that graduation rates have been steadily decreasing. Mendez said that one big concern with these dropping numbers is that funding for schools is being moved to a system that is based on graduation rates.

Mendez, along with Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Gail McGuire, are using their classes to search for answers and attempt to develop some solutions to the low graduation rates.

According to McGuire her class is trying to come up with explanations as to why the percentage of graduates within six years is so low, while Mendez’s two classes are going to develop that information into possible solutions for the school.

“We’re going to be interviewing students who have left IUSB and students who are here to try and understand why for the students who have left why aren’t they coming back? What are some of the barriers?” McGuire said. “Maybe there are some things that we can’t control as a university but are there things about the campus, about the university, where we could have some impact?”

Both Mendez and McGuire said that IUSB has already started addressing the low rates in some ways. McGuire said that many teachers are individually attempting to help students adjust to college life and while teaching a subject are also teaching their students tips on collegiate success.

The goal of their project, according to McGuire, is simply how best organize those efforts into a campus-wide plan that connects those pockets of effort and information to boost student success and bring graduation numbers back up.

Mendez said that the school of business hosts several events a year to try and create a greater connection with students, because studies suggest that the more time a student spends on campus, and the greater that students connection to the campus community, the greater likelihood of success a student has.

McGuire said that part of the problem could be that students aren’t familiar with the informal norms of college. These include students being on good terms with a few of their teachers so if they need a letter of recommendation, they have someone who will write them one, or knowing that internships are important.

IUPUI, according to Mendez, went through a similar effort and saw an increase in graduation rates. Mendez said that one of things her students will look at to find solutions is what IUPUI did to create that increase and what might be done similarly on this campus.

On May 15, Mendez and McGuire’s classes will give a presentation on their findings that will be open to administration and faculty to hear specific problems and solutions.

Any students who would like to participate in McGuire’s research efforts can email her at

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