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A scholarship to help students register for classes

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When it comes to success in college, there are the big things – academic readiness, cradle-to-career pathways. And then there are relatively small things that can make a huge difference in the ability of students to complete.

At the University of Akron in Northeast Ohio, several programs give students a boost toward finishing their degrees at different points in their college careers, and they are already having a significant impact on completion.

One is a scholarship program that allows students who owe a small amount of money from a previous semester, usually under $1,000, and who have not registered for the next semester to pay off that outstanding bill and be cleared to register and finish. It’s aimed at people within a few credits of graduation. It was funded by the Kresge Foundation and matching funds from private donors.

According to Provost Mike Sherman, academic advisers identified potential matches for this scholarship from a pool of students who were a few classes away from graduation and had not registered for classes. From there, a team personally contacted each student and asked what had kept him or her from registering for the fall term. If the reason was an outstanding balance, they were invited to apply for the scholarship.

"Rather than doing their summer job or an extra job to pay off the balance, they didn’t have to worry about coming from behind, and could focus in on the current semester," says Jim Tressel, vice president for strategic initiatives at the University of Akron.

Another program is a "refresher course" offered over the summer that lets students take a test prep tutorial class that will allow them to test out of certain courses. At the completion of the test prep, they can either test out of the course and earn the corresponding credits, take the course and have the $100 fee for the test prep applied toward their tuition, or opt not to take the course.  

University of Akron has also proposed a program called Zip Start that will allow incoming freshmen to take two general education classes over the summer at a reduced cost. This lets them get through general education courses faster and finish sooner, Sherman says. The program is expected to be approved by the Universty of Akron Board of Regents in early June.

Writer: Amy Kuras 
Source: Jim Tressel and Mike Sherman, University of Akron
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