BOZEMAN - Montana State University recently held its annual Student Retention Day at the Student Union Building.
The goal for MSU and its three additional campuses is to figure out how to get freshmen to graduate in four years.
“Like any transition in life, when students leave the sheltered environment in high school and come to college, all of the sudden they have so many choices,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “All of the sudden they have so many exciting things to do, so it’s important for us to help them make the right choices in terms of their class schedule. But it’s also not only important what happens in the classroom, but how do we help them with their choices?”
That is why there are organizations set up on the MSU campus to help those freshman students deal with on-campus and off-campus struggles.
“There are tons of transitional elements that go into that and we have really cool programs here at MSU that help prepare students for the next 4 years in college,” student body president Kylar Clifton said.
“The freshman year is really critical for your whole college experience, because it’s your first time coming here, it’s your first time to the university system, getting away from home and starting to receive your formal education,” said Clifton.
MSU is discussing ways to help student needs outside the classroom.
"Once they are out of the classroom, how they use their time, what kind of activities do they engage in, what clubs do they engage with, what extracurricular activities will help them round up their education in the most effective manner. Those are some of the things that we will focus on today," Cruzado said.
“What we’ve been doing at MSU, is every year is improving on our six-year graduation rate. That’s a federal measure, but the most exciting part for me at MSU is the incredible gains that we have made in 4-year graduation,” said Cruzado. “So I think that while there might be some students that are going to stay in a longer pathway, the majority of our students, we should focus on getting them out of school, diploma in hand, in 4 years.”
MSU spokesman Mike Becker says the benefits of encouraging and helping students to graduate in four years as opposed to longer is that it helps them incur less debt. Plus, it helps them enter the workforce sooner, meaning that the students’ lifetime earnings are that much greater.