New York Times takes deep dive into UT’s student success efforts


Students in UT’s University Leadership Network. Photo by Bill McCullough, a 1986 Plan II graduate, for The New York Times. Read about the photo shoot.


If you read only one article about UT Austin this year, please read yesterday’s New York Times Magazine cover story about our efforts to increase student success and graduation.

Titled “Who gets to graduate?” the story, which runs nearly 8,500 words, is a deep dive and a fascinating look inside the efforts of David Laude, our senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management, to increase student success. The piece also looks at the work of one of David’s collaborators, David Yeager, a UT assistant professor in psychology, and profiles one of our freshmen, Vanessa Brewer of Mesquite.

Paul Tough, a Times contributing writer and the author of How Children Succeed, spent months reporting this story from Austin. He writes:

“What Laude and Yeager are helping to demonstrate is that with the right support, both academic and psychological, these students can actually graduate at high rates from an elite university like the University of Texas. Which is exactly why the giant educational experiment now taking place there has meaning well beyond the Austin campus.”

Tough concludes:

“To [reverse the trend of educational stratification] will take some sustained work, on a national level, on a number of fronts. But a big part of the solution lies at colleges like the University of Texas at Austin, selective but not superelite, that are able to perform, on a large scale, what used to be a central mission — arguably the central mission — of American universities: to take large numbers of highly motivated working-class teenagers and give them the tools they need to become successful professionals. The U.T. experiment reminds us that that process isn’t easy; it never has been. But it also reminds us that it is possible.”

This related article on the writing of the story is also worth your time.

What starts here changes the world.


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  1. Len Schifrin says:

    UT has become a premier university. It has transformed the lives of countless students, including myself. The Alumni are forever grateful because their worlds have indeed been changed. We, all of us, strive to be worthy of Our School. It is part of us, and we are part of it, for the rest of our lives.

  2. Nancy Kwallek says:

    What a marvelous article on an experiment and program that certainly will lead to understanding of how to raise the graduation rates. Thanks to Professor Laude for thinking through a plan a few years back to make this program work.

  3. It’s hard for students to graduate in 4 years when classes are always full. My son has tried eadh semester to get classes he needs and when he goes to register they are full. He’s now down to the wire. He needs a class that is 3 semesters consecutively. And only begins in Fall, but its full. How will he graduate when he cant get the class? This happens to many students so they take bogus classes. Also why do they need the “20-25 core hour classes”? They took those in high school. College should be classes that the students actually NEEDS for his major.Take those 20 hours out and htye could graduate iin n 3 years instead of the 5 it seems to be taking students….

  4. Once again, UT leads the way. DDCE’s Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence is part of this effort to ensure students are successful.