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The “Murky Middle”

degree progress after first year

Most student success initiatives target freshman students, but 52% of attrition occurs after the first year. And of these late stage departures, over half are within the “Murky Middle.” Here’s how to track degree progress after first year completion.

The Murky Middle is the sizeable but often overlooked group of students who manage to complete their first year with a GPA between 2.0 and 3.0 but still stand a good chance of dropping out before completing their degree. The fate of the Murky Middle student is just that—murky. This population demands attention, but with limited resources, it isn’t possible to target the entire group.

Emerging research from SSC suggests that rigorous analyses of academic data can separate the hidden population of struggling students from the likely graduates, enabling targeted intervention efforts—and ultimately improved outcomes.

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