More UH freshman students are on track to complete college on time

University of Hawaiʻi
Teri Yamashige, (808) 226-0078
Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education
Kristen Bonilla, (808) 956-5039
Public Information Officer, External Affairs & University Relations, UH System
Posted: Oct 4, 2012

HONOLULU (October 4, 2012) – Following a systemwide “15 to Finish” campaign, a higher percentage of incoming freshman students at the University of Hawai‘i’s campuses statewide registered to earn 15 or more credits for the Fall 2012 semester than freshmen who entered the UH system last year. This increase puts these new students on track to complete college on time, whether they are earning associate’s or bachelor’s degrees.
At the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa campus, 55.5 percent of first-time freshmen signed up for 15 or more credits this year, a 17.2 percentage point increase from the previous year. UH Hilo experienced an increase of 12.3 percentage points, while UH West O‘ahu saw an increase of 26.7 percentage points. The UH Community Colleges increased their percentage of freshmen taking 15 or more credits by 4.6 percentage points.
“We are pleased to see that every UH campus experienced a strong increase in freshman students earning 15 credits this semester,” said UH Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost Linda Johnsrud. “Although our campaign was particularly targeted to freshman, there was a 14.7 percent increase in the number of students taking 15 or more credits systemwide. We are actively working on changing people’s perception of a full-time student from one that earns 12 credits to one that earns 15 credits per semester because this is the only way a student can graduate on time and more quickly enter the workforce or pursue graduate or professional education.”
Studies have shown that students at different levels of academic preparation who earn 30 credits per year are more likely to graduate, earn better grades, continue to the next semester, and complete more of their courses. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau data also tell us that total personal income increases greatly with higher levels of education. “In fact, Hawai‘i residents who graduate with a bachelor’s degree earn just over $52,000 on average – nearly $20,000 more than someone with only some college experience. Those with an associate’s degree earn on average $10,000 more per year” said Johnsrud.
The benefits for the individual student are clear. By graduating on time, students save on the cost of tuition, books, fees, housing and living expenses. Students at four-year campuses may save as much as $12,000 in tuition if they take 15 credits per semester because they pay tuition on only the first 12 credits. They can incur less debt, go to graduate school, travel, or start their careers earlier.
The communications campaign “15 to Finish” was launched throughout the UH System in Spring of 2012 to encourage students to earn 15 credits per semester and to raise awareness about the fact that, on average, full-time students take 5.8 years to earn a four-year degree and 5.6 years to earn a two-year degree.
The campaign is part of the Hawai‘i Graduation Initiative, one of three systemwide strategic initiatives introduced by UH President M.R.C. Greenwood in her “State of the University of Hawai‘i System” address in February 2010. The goal of the Hawai‘i Graduation Initiative is to increase the number of UH graduates by 25 percent by the year 2015. The 15 to Finish campaign was complemented by campus’ efforts to promote enrolling in 15 credits through mandatory advising, new student orientations, first year experiences, predetermined 15 credit schedules for freshman and the campus’ campaigns of “Do it in Four” or “Do it in Two.”
For more information on 15 to Finish, visit For more information on the Hawaii Graduation Initiative, visit
* B-roll:  UH Mānoa freshman orientation and generic classroom and campus shots
* Sound bites:
  • M.R.C. Greenwood, University of Hawai‘i President (17 seconds) – "It will save you and your family an enormous amount of money if you are able to finish in 4 years instead of five years or six years. Once you have paid for 12 units at the University of Hawai‘i, you can take as many units as you would like to take at our four-year campuses."
  • Jordan Morimoto, UH Mānoa freshman (9 seconds) – "I never really actually thought about like credits, and how many credits does it take to graduate. And 15 actually isn’t really that big a number to achieve for."
  • Leisa Lovett, UH Mānoa freshman (15 seconds) – "I thought it was very useful, like now I know that I don’t have to be in school for super long and if I just stay on task and do everything I need to do. 15 credits is kind of a lot coming from high school. I’m going to try and see if I can do it."
Established in 1907 and fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the University of Hawai‘i is the state’s sole public system of higher education. The UH System provides an array of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees and community programs on 10 campuses and thorough educational, training, and research centers across the state. UH enrolls more than 60,000 students from Hawai‘i, the U.S. mainland, and around the world. For more information, visit