KNOXVILLE (WATE) - University of Tennessee officials are going out of their way to encourage the new freshman class to graduate in four years.
Staffers even handed out 2014 graduation tassels during an early Torch Celebration.
Officials decided to do the presentation early this year to give students the message that they're expected to graduate in four years.
A recent Tennessee Higher Education Commission study showed on average 65 percent of UT students graduate in six years.
"Certainly there are some students who get distracted by the many things they can do here that they couldn't do when they were at home so we want to provide activities that will keep them focused on academics," said Dr. Sally McMillian, vice provost for academic affairs.
McMillian says all incoming freshmen read "Mountains Beyond Mountains" by Tracy Kidder and spent time in small groups discussing how it inspired them to succeed.
Even UT coaches are getting in on cheering for the freshmen.
Men's head basketball coach Bruce Pearl and women's head coach Pat Summit painted the UT rock with the message "Welcome class of 2014."
"Even though this is the class we're welcoming, and the best class we've had in a long, long time, it's all about when they leave with their degrees," coach Pearl said.