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University of Alaska urges full-time students to Stay on TRACK

The University of Alaska is launching a new campaign called "Stay on TRACK" to encourage full-time students to reach their graduation goals more quickly and at less cost to them. The multi-media campaign rolls out Oct. 31 and will inform students about the necessary choices they must make to earn a bachelor's degree within four years.

Those choices include:
• Taking 15 credit hours per semester, or 30 per year
• Registering early to get needed classes
• Asking an academic advisor and using DegreeWorks, an online tool available to all UA students
• Choosing a major by the third semester of school and sticking with it
• Keeping up the grades

"Some people believe that 'full-time' is 12 credits per semester, but that's not enough to finish in the traditional four years," said UA President Pat Gamble. "Like many universities, most of UA's baccalaureate programs require around 120 credits, which means full-time students should strive for completing at least 30 credits per year if they hope to earn their degree in four years. For some programs, the credit requirement is higher but the idea that less time means less expense still applies."

President Gamble stressed that each student is unique, and the campaign isn't intended as a "one size fits all" solution. However, "students should have the information and tools available to make choices that are in their overall best interest," he said.

The website, www.alaska.edu/stayontrack, includes tips and checklists for freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. Advertising includes posters, flyers, a postcard mailed to freshmen families, shuttle bus signs at University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Alaska Anchorage, and inserts in student newspapers.

Advisor kits will be distributed throughout the system to help inform everyone of the campaign, which was designed in house by a multi-campus committee. One feature of the campaign is the "finish in four promise," a voluntary commitment to adhere to the five TRACK recommendations.

Students who sign up for the promise and successfully complete 15 credits next semester will be entered to win prizes including an ipad2, a video watch, a night vision camera, a video swim mask and portable mesh hammock.

Eventually, staff and faculty working on the campaign would like to build in additional incentives-perhaps even tuition incentives-for students who make the promise and keep it. A second phase of the campaign will target students working on two-year associate degrees.

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