Habits that lead undergraduates to stay more than four years examined in latest OIRAE briefing

Students who hit eight semesters at Purdue without graduating and then continue their enrollment are dubbed “super seniors.” Though an extra semester might be necessary for the occasional senior, these super seniors are actually staying more frequently and longer, resulting in negative consequences for themselves and the University.

According to the latest briefing from the Office of Institutional Research, Assessment and Effectiveness (OIRAE), 56 percent of seniors in their last semester repeated that semester at least once, compared to 10 percent of students in their second semester and beyond.

A public forum on the report will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, May 12, in Rawls Hall, Room 1062.

Not only are super seniors taking on more student debt than the average student ($11,000 to $20,000), they also make class scheduling a challenge. They might sign up for lower division courses, which then makes it more difficult to know how many sections are needed. At worst, lowerclassmen could be shut out of classes they need to advance in their majors.

The obvious causes of delayed graduation include circumstances such as experiential semesters (student teaching, internships); switching to a different program of study, especially after the third semester; or having credits that don’t apply to graduation requirements from another university – all situations that could lead to a student being a super senior.

But together, those circumstances only explain approximately half of super seniors’ failure to graduate on time and some, like the experiential semester, enhance the learning experience rather than just delaying it. Thirty-eight percent of super seniors had no experiential semesters, did not seek multiple majors or degrees and remained in the same college throughout their academic career.

The situation tends to affect the men in the student body more than the women. According to the OIRAE analysis, women consistently achieve better grades as a group and graduate at higher rates than men.

Two other big reasons super seniors don’t graduate on time is that they’re attempting and earning too few credits per semester, the minimum being 15 credit hours, and that they repeat multiple courses.

The briefing recommends that the University consider devoting more institutional effort to assist students who repeat multiple courses, do not attempt or earn 15 credit hours a semester or change their program of study after the third semester.

To read April’s briefing visit: https://www.purdue.edu/oirae/documents/OIRAE_Briefings/Super_Seniors_April_2017.pdf

Writer: Kirsten Gibson, technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), 765-494-8190, gibson33@purdue.edu

Last Updated: May 4, 2017

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2015 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by ITaP

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact ITaP at itap@purdue.edu.