The four and six year graduation rates at USI are astonishingly low. I believe these rates can be raised, however. With time and patience we can attract more students and convince them that USI is the right school for them to graduate from. Our incoming freshmen class is fairly constant over the past ten years. We need to find new strategies and marketing plans to help improve USI’s reputation and attract more students for the long term, not just for their first one or two years.
I believe one major reason people come to USI in the beginning is for the low tuition cost. Many incoming students want to save some money while completing their core classes and then want to transfer to a bigger, more well recognized school in which to complete their degree. One plan to help retain these students at USI rather than to lose them to other schools is to have more specialties in the majors. For example, if USI offered other specialties within their marketing degree they would be more likely to attract students who are looking for those specialties. Another way for USI to retain their students would be to add additional majors to give the students more options. However, USI cannot stray from its original mission: to give a solid education to all students. The tuition must remain relatively low and the admissions process the same.
Ultimately, I believe time will be the biggest contributor to USI’s success. Because we are a relatively new school, we have not had the time to develop ourselves as deeply and thoroughly as other “big name” schools. USI does not yet have the strong alumni base and vast funds to market itself as much as is needed. Once the university ages, I believe it will be able to compete with large schools such as University of Evansville and Indiana University.