Despite college officials’ claims that York College is moving forward and progressing in graduation rates, York College’s four-year graduation rate is the lowest of all CUNY senior colleges, according to the office of Institutional Research and Assessment.
Director of the office, Dr. Aghajan Mohammadi, said that even on a broader scale, York is still failing to meet national standards.
“York’s four-year graduation rate is low, compared to the national average,” said Mohammadi.
The average graduation rate among the CUNY senior colleges is 23 percent, said Mohammadi.
According to the most recent data on student graduation rates, found on CUNY’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment website, only five percent of first-time freshmen, enrolled full-time at York in fall 2009 received bachelor degrees by 2013. That number, however, only calculates students who continue with York and does not account transfers or students who reduce from full time to part time.
The data, reported by the federal government’s Integration Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), gathers information from every college, university, and technical and vocational institution that participates in the federal student financial aid programs, according to its website.
Student transfers have affected York’s graduation and retention rate. The college has a 47 percent transfer out rate, according the most recent IPEDS data. York’s one year retention rate dropped 3 percent by 2013.
“We transfer out twice as much as we transfer in,” said Mohammadi.
“We’re more of givers than takers,” said Richard Stuckhardt, assistant director of York’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment.
According to Mohammadi, York’s decreased student retention is mainly caused by students who leave after they fail to get accepted into the school’s professional programs.
“Nursing and physicians assistant, these are highly competitive majors,” said Mohammadi. “Students don’t get in, so they leave.”
York’s reputation has also affected the graduation rate, according to Assistant Provost, Dr. Holger Henke. “York is still behind in the way it is perceived, in terms of its reputation,” said Henke. “There is a gap between what the public thinks about York College and where the college really is.”
But even current students are taking issue with the college’s failure to meet even basic facility needs.
“You know you’re struggling if when it rains the class ceiling starts leaking and there’s puddles everywhere,” said Communication Technology major, Giovanni Anglin.
Recently, the floor in a room in the English wing, 2A04, was covered in water from the windows and ceiling leaking during the rain.
But other students have taken a more positive approach to their experience.
“Someone told me, you won’t get the college experience by coming to York,” said Loveleen Kaur, a freshman Psychology major. “I feel like I’m getting the experience in terms of the atmosphere and professors here.”
“I didn’t allow people’s opinion to dictate my decision, I came and experienced it for myself,” said Sangeeta Nandram, freshman psychology major.
According to Henke, many of the students enrolled have not intended on graduating from York but instead used the college as a “waiting station” before they moved on to their desired school.
“A lot of students who come here don’t see York as their first choice,” said Henke. “They come here and do not intend to graduate here, that counts toward our graduation rate unfortunately.”
According to Henke, school officials have worked in recent years to improve York’s graduation and retention rates. “We have been working to improve our image,” said Henke. York’s reputation, he said, has been damaged by bad press. “We are trying to define ourselves, rather than have the media define us.”
Along with an improved image, both Mohammadi and Henke agreed, York has improved student services. Advisement, Henke said, has become less “disjointed” than before.
“When students have declared their major, then the departments and the faculty become more involved. We believe [this] is a stronger way of advising our students,” said Henke.
“We are trying to understand the freshmen better, so we can treat them better,” said Mohammadi.
York has implemented a new “early alert system,” which includes the various academic touring and service centers on campus, according to Henke. “The system is a way for faculty to connect students with these programs, if they need them,” said Henke.
York faculty have also tried engaging students in clubs and other co-curricular activities. “Students don’t know about the extra curricular activities, that’s the problem,” said Anglin. “They don’t care, you have to make them care.”
York is faced with a challenge as a commuter college, said Henke. “A lot of students are working or are single parents, they have intensive lives, in addition to their classes. They come to the college, take their class then they leave. That’s not the best way to go about your education.”
Both Henke and Mohammedi agreed, York’s gradation has risen slightly in recent years and Henke said, more can always be done. “We should continually strive as individuals and as an institution, look at what we’re doing and try to do it better the next time around. We have been growing and increasing our graduation rate and we hope that the trajectory continues to point upward.”