Introduction Students' ability to complete degrees in a timely manner has become one of the key new issues in higher education. Enrollment increases along with resource cuts have created increasing problems for student progress, which Western has been confronting through curricular changes, enrollment management policy changes, and higher workload for faculty and staff. At the same time, increases in tuition have highlighted students' felt need for efficient progress. Two recent findings illustrate the impact of these pressures on the university. First, nearly half (44.9%) of students who entered Western in Fall, 1994, said at least one course they wanted to take was unavailable; one-fourth (25.6%) said more than one was unavailable. These figures would be much higher were it not for extensive recent efforts by the university to increase course access. Second, one-third (33.3%) of new students entering Fall, 1994 said a "major reason" influencing their choice of major field would be their "ability to complete the major within an acceptable time. " The great majority (81.1%) said this consideration is at least "a minor reason" for choosing their major field. The United States Congress recognized the issue of degree completion in 1991 when it passed the Student Right-To-Know and Campus Security Act. This act states that each college, receiving federal funds, must disclose a graduation rate for full-time, degree seeking Freshmen. National studies on time to complete baccalaureate degree show that 43.0% of graduates do so within 4 years, 70.8% graduate within 5 years, and 81% graduate within 6 years--19% take longer than 6 years to complete their degree (National Center for Education Statustics; 1993). On a more local level, one that is more comparable to Western Washington University, a study of California State University, a public university with moderately selective admission requirements, showed that 81.0% of transfer students graduate in 4 years (average= 3
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Simpson, Carl; Matson, Scott; and Clark, Linda D. (Linda Darlene), "Making Progress Toward The Degree" (1995). Office of Survey Research. 574.