UH's "15 to Finish" initiative gains local, national traction

Successful initiative urging students to graduate on time adopted by 20 other states

University of Hawaiʻi
Jodi Leong , (808) 492-0597
Dir of Communications, External Affairs and University Relations
Posted: Nov 30, 2014


The University of Hawai‘i (UH) announced today that more than 55 percent of first-time freshmen entering UH Mānoa, UH Hilo and UH West O‘ahu enrolled in 15 or more credits in the Fall 2014 semester,  which will help more students graduate on time and enter the workforce sooner. The increase is attributed to the “15 to Finish” campaign that was launched by UH’s Hawai‘i Graduation Initiative in 2011 and the many campus initiatives focused on improving on time graduate rates (2 years for an associate degree and 4 years for a bachelor’s degree). As a result of the campaign’s success, universities in 20 states have also adopted similar initiatives.  

“We are pleased to hear that an idea we created and implemented to help our students is being adopted across the country,” said Joanne Itano, UH interim executive vice president for academic affairs. “Our long-term goal is to increase the number of citizens with a college degree to prepare a highly skilled workforce and promote the economic vitality of our state.”

Across the nation and Hawaiʻi, the norm has been to take 12 credits per semester, which results in an additional one to three years to complete a degree.  The University of Hawai‘i was the first university system in the nation to put together a comprehensive strategy to encourage students to take 15 credits each semester in order to graduate on time.  The strategy was developed based on research that showed students who took 15 credits or more perform better academically than students taking fewer than 15 credits. The campaign to communicate with students supports individual campus procedures to improve on-time graduation.

In addition to the increases at the four-year campuses, the UH Community Colleges almost doubled the number of first-time freshmen taking 15 or more credits.  The overall strategy has been endorsed by Complete College America, a national non-profit group that works with states to significantly increase the number of Americans with quality career certificates or college degrees. 

“It’s nice to know that I’m on track to graduate on time and what I’m trying to do is unusual,” said Micah Gowen, a Social Sciences student at UH West O‘ahu.

UH Maui College student Kelcie Rapoza said, “I was taking 12 credits already, so three more credits isn’t too bad. Plus, I’m the first in my family to go to college, and I just wanted to graduate on time to make my family proud.”

For more information on the Hawai‘i Graduation Initiative and the 15 to Finish campaign, please visit www.hawaii.edu/hawaiigradinitiative

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