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Following the systemwide 15 to Finish campaign, a higher percentage of incoming freshman students at the University of Hawaiʻi’s campuses statewide registered to earn 15 or more credits for the fall 2012 semester than freshmen who entered the University of Hawaiʻi System last year.

The increase puts these new students on track to complete college on time, whether they are earning associate’s or bachelor’s degrees.

At the UH 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 Oʻahu 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 freshmen, 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,” said Johnsrud.

Benefits of taking 15 credits

By graduating on time, students save on the cost of tuition, books, fees, housing and living expenses.

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 show that total personal income increases greatly with higher levels of education.

“In fact, Hawaiʻi residents who graduate with a bachelor’s degree earn just over $52,000 on average, which is 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.

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.

Hawaiʻi Graduation Initiative

The 15 to Finish communications campaign was launched throughout the UH System in spring 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 Hawaiʻi Graduation Initiative, one of three systemwide strategic initiatives introduced by UH President M.R.C. Greenwood in her State of the University address in February 2010.

The goal of the Hawaiʻi 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 freshmen and the campus’ campaigns of “Do it in Four” or “Do it in Two.”

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