Student Achievement

Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) evaluates student achievement consistent with its mission, which is to provide an outstanding education for a diverse group of talented and highly motivated students from various ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographical backgrounds. The first goal in the University’s Strategic Plan expresses the institutional focus and commitment to student achievement:


Johnson C. Smith University set a goal for the academic year 2015-16 of seventy-two percent (72%) for first-year fall-to-fall retention. This was above the institutional average for the three previous years at JCSU (65%), and it was above the benchmark IPEDS comparison group’s three year average (58%) of the same period, and represented the University’s commitment to its aspiration for student success and retention. Because of purposeful institutional efforts, including changes to advising and strategic gap funding remedies, progress was made toward increased retention rate.

Table 1 – Retention Rate Comparisons for First-Year Students

  2015-16 Three-Year Average 2014-15 2013-14 2012-13
Johnson C. Smith University 67 65 66 56 72
IPEDS Comparison Group -- 58 59 57 57

The University recognizes that caring academic professionals who operate from both the intrusive and appreciative philosophical stances are essential to its retention effort and places emphasis in the support of its teacher/advisors and professional staff advisors. In addition, to strengthen efforts, the University launched the First-Year Experience platform as a component of the new University College targeting first-year and undecided students. The University further recognizes that academic research and internships draw students into substantive relationships with faculty and community members, and that such partnership function to more deeply connect students to their discipline, the university, and the larger society.


The threshold for the institutional graduation rate was reached using six years as the accepted measure. This was concluded because the Student Right-to-Know-Act requires colleges to report the proportion of students “completing their program within 150 percent of the normal time to completion.” For baccalaureate granting institutions, that means the proportion of students who earn bachelor’s degrees within six years. The University established forty-five percent (45%) as the goal for the 2014-2015 six-year graduation rate. The figure was derived by reviewing past performance independent and in relation to institutions of like size and mission. Here, data show that the University was in range of its goal.

Table 2 – Six-Year Graduation Rate Comparisons

  2014-15 Three-Year Average 2013-14 2012-13 2011-12
Johnson C. Smith University 44 41 44 42 37
IPEDS Comparison Group -- 29 31 29 28

Graduate School Acceptance

Each year, the Center for Career and Professional Development surveys graduating seniors to identify their post-graduation plans. Alumni surveys and the National Student Clearinghouse are also utilized to assist academic units in efforts to track continuing education and employment trajectories. Because most schools do not publish graduate school acceptance rates, benchmarking is difficult. In recent years, the University has sent around 24% of graduates into graduate school. [Outcomes for the previous two years: 2012-13 (22%) and 2011-12 (25%).]

Therefore, in 2013-14 the study of past performance led to the establishment of twenty-four percent (24%) as the goal for the percentage of graduates who would be accepted into graduate school within twelve months of graduation. The graduate school acceptance rate for the period was 25%.


A parallel and similar process occurs for the tracking and reporting of job placement. Set in 2009-10, the goal for employment began at thirty-two percent (32%) and is raised by 2%-3% each year. Generally, outcomes exceed goals and the University continues to commit itself to improved and sustained interventions on two fronts: internships and research. The opportunity for students to experiment with career possibilities, while gaining invaluable direct experience, by completing internships locally during the academic year and nationally during the summer months are afforded. Also, JCSU has captured a valuable research niche for students in a myriad of academic endeavors, some of which lead to student academic and professional publications. In 2013-14, the goal for student employability twelve months after graduation was forty-two percent (42%). Data show the University’s post-graduate employment rate was 37%.