USC helps students graduate on time by pinpointing what’s holding them back
By Jason Song
When Sharon Sin enrolled at USC three years ago, she didn’t sign up for a foreign language course because it wasn’t a requirement for her engineering major.
But her sophomore year, Sin switched her focus to social sciences, which has a mandatory three-semester language component. She put off the requirement, thinking that maybe she could pass a placement test that would get her out of taking the classes. Then she received an email notice from USC administrators telling her she had to meet with an academic advisor to discuss the foreign language mandate.
After the meeting, Sin decided to take an introductory Korean course last spring and is enrolled in two more Korean classes this year, putting her on pace to graduate this spring.
“Four years is enough for undergraduate school,” she said.
Sin is part of a small cohort of USC students flagged by administrators who have spent the last several years scrutinizing academic data to see whether students who don’t graduate on time share any similar traits.
After crunching the data, USC administrators realized that students who weren’t on pace to graduate on time failed to complete their language requirements. They began watching for students who had not finished those courses by the end of their sophomore year. Those undergraduates, like Sin, then had to meet with an advisor to come up with a plan to complete the requirement within two years. If they don’t begin their language requirement by the spring of their junior year, they are required to register for one.