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The 4-year Myth: How Ole Miss Students Beat the Odds

As graduation looms in the minds of seniors at the University of Mississippi, the reality is that only 43.8 percent of students get that diploma in four years, according to the most recent UM statistics.
The number may seem low, but it is the highest 4-year graduation rate that the university has seen in quite some time.

Dylan Lewis, a senior journalism major, finishes his last week of classes and is slowly inching his way towards graduating on May 13 after four years of hard work. Photo by Taylor Lewis.

Dylan Lewis, a journalism major, is one student who helped boost that number.
“Honestly the overall factor that played into my ability to graduate in four years are the people who believed in me and loved me when I didn’t even have the courage to believe in myself,” Lewis said.
Scarlett Fox, another journalism major, found her support through the advisors she had as an athlete and as a Meek School of Journalism and New Media student.
“Mainly just staying on top of things and knowing what I needed to do to graduate in four years. I always checked in with my academic advisors for athletics and for academics just to make sure that I had everything figured out,” Fox said.
Jennifer Simmons, the assistant dean for student services at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media came to the Meek School in 2015 in order to improve student advising. But sometimes, she says, students ignore the plan when they walk out her door.
“When the student leaves they can register for whatever they want, which is not normally advised,” Simmons said.
USA Today reports that a lack of a clear plan for advising is one of the top reasons that most college students are unable to graduate in four years. Fox agrees that it’s important to stick with your adviser’s recommendations.
“Advising was big just because, again you have those conversations with them at least once a semester, you come up with a plan, and you stick with it,” Fox said.
Of course, there are good reasons to add some time to your college career.
“I do I think there’s other circumstances,” Fox said. “Sometimes you switch majors; sometimes you realize that ‘This isn’t what I want to do’ and you have to take that fifth year, and there’s no shame in that either.”
The number of classes taken each semester can also play a major role in graduating on time.
“On average students need to take at least 15 hours a semester minimum over the course of eight semesters to get all hours needed for graduation,” Simmons said.
Fox said that the best advice she could give to an incoming freshman is to “sit down before your academic advising meeting, know what you need to get, know what classes you have to take for the major that you think you want to graduate with and have that plan ready.”

Lewis said that believing in yourself early on and having a strong supportive circle of friends are the true keys to success.
“When you set a goal, know that you can do it,” Lewis said. “Know that when you get here, if you find the right people and you surround yourself with the right people, you can do it.”


Story contributed by Taylor Lewis: tlbradf1@go.olemiss.edu.

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