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 30-60-90 Graduation Roadmap

30-60-90 Student Success Roadmap Poster to get the word out across campus

30-60-90 Student Success Roadmap:
Success is a Journey, Not a Destination

Chances are anyone planning a four-year road trip would buy a lot of maps, read up on the places they’d be visiting, and talk to people who had taken the trip before to make sure they were getting the most out of their adventure. Now UMD students have similar tools available to enhance their collegiate journey. UMD’s new 30-60-90 Student Success Roadmap is designed to help them not only navigate their academic requirements, on the road to graduation, but also help them become more involved and engaged during their college experience.

30-60-90 refers to credit goals (30 credits for sophomore status, 60 credits for junior status and 90 credits for senior status), with 120 credits needed for graduation. The 30-60-90 Roadmap homepage displays the Roadmap by collegiate unit. Expectations are laid out. Key benchmarks are plotted along a clearly marked route.

The website includes links to academic advising and sites such as Engage, where students can connect to a wide variety of organizations (both on campus and in the community), and ePortfolio, where students can maintain their personal, professional and educational records. It also features a link to Graduation Planner, an easy-to-use program that students can use to create customized plans to help them stay on track for graduation. Many of these tools are also there to assist faculty, advisors, staff, and parents guide and mentor students.

Mary Keenan, Senior Academic Advisor at UMD’s College of Liberal Arts-Student Affairs and one of the architects of the Roadmap, pointed out that the Roadmap is much more than just a means to attaining the single goal of graduation in four years. “It’s a lot about the journey. It’s about a student’s broader experience and their involvement on campus.” Involvement, Keenan added, leads students to “feeling connected.”

Mary Keenan, Senior Academic Advisor at UMD's College of Liberal Arts-Student Affairs

Keenan realizes that not every student can graduate in four years. “The five year timeline works better for some,” she said, but emphasized that she hopes the Roadmap will help students to make a conscious decision to take a five year route, as opposed to it being something that “just happens” because they didn’t plan things out.

UMD continues to offer undergraduate students financial incentives to complete their degree in four years. Tuition Banding allows undergraduate students to pay a flat tuition rate based on a 13-credit load. All credits above 13 per semester are tuition-free. Another incentive is UMD’s Four-Year Graduation Plan in which UMD covers an extra semester of tuition if a student follows the guidelines and yet is unable to graduate because a course in their major wasn’t available.

A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With a Single Step.

Keenan describes the 30-60-90 Roadmap as a “unique document in higher education.” Work began on it in 2006 when Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin challenged then Vice Chancellor Bruce Gildseth to build a team to identify a new, holistic and strategic approach to improve retention and graduation rates at UMD.

Over the next two years, Keenan and other team members, representing UMD administration, student affairs, academics and student support services, painstakingly researched and analyzed what worked and what didn’t work. Keenan credits UMD with creating a culture in which they were free “to try something new.” From there, the 30-60-90 Roadmap was developed.

The Roadmap has received praise from other universities. David Kalsbeek, Senior Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing at DePaul University, described it as a “perfect illustration of how to approach student retention strategically.” An article about the development of the Roadmap, written by Keenan, Susan Darge, Matt Larson and Paul Treuer, will appear in an upcoming issue of NCCI, published by the National Consortium for Continuous Improvement in Higher Education.

A Successful Launch

The 30-60-90 Roadmap was launched this fall as part of freshman Intro to College Learning (ICL), Learning Community Integrative Seminar (LCIS) classes, and information sessions. Email blasts were sent out and posters were displayed in the residence halls and around campus to also inform people about the program. The response to the 30-60-90 Roadmap has been very positive. “Faculty and staff seem to find it very intuitive,” Keenan said.

John P. Kowalczyk, Program Coordinator for UMD's Freshman Learning Initiatives and ICL instructor for the past five years, calls the Roadmap a "valuable thing." The Welcome Weekend Bulldog Bash, which is mandatory for freshman, aligned many of the messages delivered to new students with the Roadmap. The Roadmap was then explored in greater detail in ICL and LCIS classes. Surveys, which Kowalczyk and other faculty developed, were administered to freshmen over the course of the semester. These surveys showed an increased awareness of Roadmap benchmarks. Students indicated that they were spending more time studying, were becoming more involved in co-curricular activities, and were making connections with other students and with faculty. "Overall, we've seen a tremendous amount of progress," Kowalczyk said.

Feedback from students, faculty, staff and parents will continue to inform the 30-60-90 Student Success Roadmap. Keenan states that it will continue to evolve. In the meantime, a compliment came from a senior student who, after hearing Keenan give a presentation about the Roadmap, exclaimed, “Wow, that was really interesting. I wish I had seen that when I was a freshman.”

Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann,

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto,, 218-726-8830

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