Rasmussen College Focuses On Growing Student Success Through Key Initiatives

College makes changes to tuition, entrance requirements and core academic structure to help ensure students are successful in their academic career

Jul 30, 2012, 11:00 ET from Rasmussen College

MINNEAPOLIS, July 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Amidst the growing debate regarding the state of higher education in the U.S., Rasmussen College, a regionally-accredited postsecondary institution, has proactively taken steps to implement measures to improve student success rates. Founded in 1900 in St. Paul, Minnesota, Rasmussen College is known for bringing practical, career-focused education to the classroom. Over the past few years, the College has made adjustments to tuition, entrance requirements and their overall academic delivery to help students graduate, find successful careers, and reduce their overall student debt.

"Our goal as a career-focused and student-centric institution of higher learning is to ensure that our students obtain the most value from their education, which in turn can result in a career of stability and security," Rasmussen College President Kristi Waite said. "We hold a great responsibility to our students, and they trust that we are putting their best interests first. The changes that we have made over the past several years reflect our deep commitment to make sure our students are successful in their future careers and lives once they leave our doors."

As the cost of a college education continues to rise, Rasmussen College took the initiative to freeze tuition costs for the 2011-2012 academic school year, while also reducing tuition in selected programs by up to 20 percent. Scholarship packages were also increased for students based off of academic success, and new accelerated bachelor degree completion programs were introduced with an affordable tuition rate of $260 per credit. Combined with new financial literacy courses that are required as part of the College's entrance requirements, these initiatives will have a considerable impact on helping to reduce student loan debt.

While Rasmussen College is proactively making changes to reduce student debt, according to the College Board's Trends in College Pricing 2011 report, in-state tuition and fees at public, four-year institutions are averaging 8.3 percent higher in 2011-2012 than they did in 2010-2011. Tuition and fees at public, two-year colleges averaged 8.7 percent higher in this same timeframe.

"Rasmussen College is committed to making the necessary adjustments to help reduce costs in key areas that will place academic and career goals closer in reach. This is just one more example of our commitment to student success," Waite said.

The College has also made changes to their core curriculum structure by providing career-relevant academic milestones. Called "credential laddering," students now take a defined sequence of courses to earn a certificate, diploma, and associate's degree during their pursuit of a bachelor's degree. Approved by regulatory organizations in 2011 and implemented in January 2012, this new structure allows students in all programs to take advantage of their educational accomplishments as they work toward their end goal.

Rasmussen College has always prided itself on the number of support services available for both incoming and current students. In 2011, Rasmussen College launched Support+, a unique network of student services that provides an individualized level of support to help students earn their degree and succeed in their chosen career. Made up of program managers, student advisors, student financial services advisors and career service advisors, each student's Support+ network works specifically and cohesively together to help them achieve their academic and career goals.

Entrance requirements have changed as well. Many career-focused, private colleges utilize an open-enrollment policy that allows for anyone with a high school degree to enroll into programs, however such a lenient process lends itself to low student retention rates. After noticing a decline in the rate at which students were persisting from one quarter to the next in 2009, Rasmussen College took the initiative to transition to a qualified enrollment process beginning in the fall of 2010. Since then, the College is denying access to about 20 percent of students who would have historically entered the institution.

"Often, we have to take a step back in order to move forward, and this is exactly what we did at Rasmussen College in order to ensure our students are successful. Over our last three quarters, we have seen a significant improvement in the rate at which students are progressing from one quarter to the next. They are doing better in the classroom; they are graduating and obtaining great careers. This was definitely a change we made with the best interest of our students in mind," Waite said.

The core component of Rasmussen College's qualified enrollment is a College Experience Course (CEC), which is required of all applicants to ensure that prospective students fully understand their obligations as college students. They also have to navigate through sample coursework, and learn about career opportunities within their chosen field of study and financial responsibility, among other activities.

"Our qualified enrollment process helps students understand what it truly means to attend college from classroom responsibility and homework time commitments, to repaying student loans and looking for a career afterward. We want them to understand what this commitment means," Waite said.

All of these changes have made a difference. In the most recent academic quarter, the College reported an increase in year-over-year student retention rates, a reduction in the number of students needing remedial courses, and a reduction in the number of students taking excess funds from their financial aid.

Waite concluded, "As an institution of higher education, Rasmussen College is committed to continual improvement. There's still a lot of work to do on behalf of our students, but we are pleased with our preliminary results."

An innovator of higher education, Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited, private college that specializes in offering the most in-demand degree programs in a highly supportive, student-centered educational environment.  Rasmussen College offers market-relevant programs from the certificate and diploma level through the associate's and bachelor's level online and across its 22 campuses in the Midwest and Florida to more than 14,000 students. By combining its expertise in career development with high academic standards and with unparalleled student support services, graduates of Rasmussen College leave with the most up-to-date knowledge, the skills that employers look for, and the tools to succeed in their chosen field.  Since 1900, the primary focus at Rasmussen College has remained constant: student achievement is of the upmost importance, the employer who hires its students continues to be a valued partner, and Rasmussen College is dedicated to being a primary contributor to the growth and development of the communities it serves. For more information about Rasmussen College, please visit www.Rasmussen.edu.

SOURCE Rasmussen College