The most enlightening and powerful outcome of this research has been the illustration of how first-year academic performance and progress plays a significant role in retention and graduation.
High performance in the student's first year is defined as earning a first-year grade point average of 2.5 or higher AND completion of 48 or more credits of academic work in the first year. Moderate performance is defined as meeting ONE of these benchmarks, either a 2.5 or higher grade point average or 48 credits.
First-year retention is very high, over 90 percent, for students meeting high performance and moderate performance. First-year retention falls off dramatically for students in the low performance group. The data show that more than 8 out of 10 high-performing students and 7 out of 10 moderate-performing students graduated in six years, compared to only 2 out of 10 low-performing students. (See chart below for definitions.) Although students in moderate performance have solid six-year graduation rates, the chart below illustrates that students in high performance have superior four-year graduation rates, over 70 percent, and this is important for students concerned about on-time graduation.
These outcomes hold true whether a student entered DePaul in the top third of the class, or bottom third of the class in terms of incoming academic preparation. First-year academic performance is the key driver of degree completion.
Less than 37 credits, or GPA below 2.50 and between 37-47 credits
GPA above 2.50 but between 37-47 credits, or GPA below 2.50 but 48 or more credits
GPA above 2.50 and 48 or more credits