#DUGConf #ST28345 Improving Student Retention

Improving Student Retention

Janet Gil – Dean of Enrollment Services
Ed Koster – Dir of Info Tech
Western Iowa Tech Community College – Sioux City, IA

(personal comments)
History & Background
  • Stagnant Enrollments FA/04 – FA/07
  • Declining regional population base
  • Aging of regional population
  • Philosophy:
  • “let’s do a better job of retaining our current students – ROI to “save” current students and keep them coming back for subsequent semesters & graduate! – can be just as effective as continually going out to recruit new students”

Retention Liaisons – 2007
  • Hired 10 retention Liaisons 5-10 hours per week … people who were already invested in the students – faculty and staff within departments
  • Intensive & purposeful calling / contacting strategy and timeline developed
  • Built collaboration between student Services & Faculty
  • Very intentional call list – some lists included:
  • During the summer:
  • students not graduated but not enrolled for next term
  • students who have applied but have not registered
  • students who had withdrawn during prior semester – touch base with students… something had happened in their life – could we get them back into college?
  • 1st time students who hadn’t registered for Orientation – if students don’t go through Orientation they aren’t as likely to be successful
  • After the semester has begun:
    • first time students within first couple of weeks to check on hteir progress
    • studentes at risk of being dis-enrolled for non-payment
    • students who are reported as absent or not attending
    • student who drop their classes – literally Touch Base the next day after they have dropped classes
  • Did have to educate especially in Financial Aid questions
  • College Experience Class – 2009 (SU’s Freshman Seminar class)
    • Intended for all 1st time degree seeking students – Touch base with students before they hit someone’s “potential at risk” list – proactive vs. reactive – allows college to give them the information when it is pertinent instead of bombarding them at the start of the semester or during Orientation
    • Curriculum designed to orient new students to college – right info at the right time!
    • Key campus leaders as guest speakers 
    • Curriculum to meet student Needs
    • Ice breakers – Drop Add / Refund Policies
    • Campus Tour / Scavenger Hunt – Campus portal – logins
    • Student Activities & safety and Security – about the time intramurals are getting started / what to do in case they “see” something or have a flat tire, policies, etc.
    • Learning styles & study skills
    • Stress Management & Time management – mid-semester so students are stressing over midterms, etc.
    • Financial Literacy & Financial Aid – timing for when they can apply for online scholarships for the next semester
    • Advising & registration process – the importance of getting registered early
    • Celebrate friendships & goals

    Retention Alert – 2010

    • Online reporting tool for all to use: www.mywitcc.com
    • Campus Wide opportunities to report concerns:
    • faculty can report attendance 
    • Housing Staff can report behavior concerns
    • Financial concerns can be reported
  • Mechanism to see patterns emerging with students which allow us to be proactive
  • Keys to successful implementation
    • process mapping prior to implementation services
    • Beware of temptation with automated cases – can be done through system, i.e. student drops class or withdraws – but don’t OVER use it
  • Comments
    • Setup case types and define the roles and responsibilities (setup in design phase by Datatel) – can note HOW you spoke to the student i.e. phone, email
    • Allows you to see Trending cases – where are the issues within your institution

    Retention Alert Activity: 1/1/11 – 2/11/11
    • Deficiency Notice Sent – 2
    • Student Leaving – 1
    • Fin Aid File Completion – 94
    • Issue was resolved – 201
    • Student Behavior improved 1
    • Student did not respond to outreach – 41
    • Student was contacted – 281
    • total: 621
    • Comments
    • still working out who goes where and the “funnel” system
    • Dean of Students contacts students directly in many cases
    • The ease of using the process makes a difference – is timely and easy
    • Retention alert gets everyone involved in retaining students, not just those with “retention” in their job title

    Plan & Timeline
    • 2007 – Retention Liasons
    • 2009 – College Exprerience Class – use volunteer faculty & staff to lead the class
    • 2010 – Retention Alert Reporting System – has great buy-in across the campus

    Results
    • Fall headcount: Fall 2007 (5191) vs. Fall 2010 (6421)
    • Retention %: Fall 2007 (63.2%) vs. Fall 2010 (68.1%)

    Comments
    • Built bridges across the college
    • Made them look at the processes and where could things be made smoother for students

    Questions
    • Was increasing retention due to a specific piece or was it a culmination of everything? Everything
    • Did we have any way of tracking the communication between the Liaison & the students?  Notes made in the comments section including initials – Attention Alert is great for documenting the history with a student
    • How do you select your liaisons?  Get a good pool of applicants then a committee looks at things like Hours available.  Are a variety of individuals including PT faculty and retired faculty
    • Have you used students as liaisons?  Do use students in other aspects
    • College experience class – is it mandatory?  Yes – mandatory for 1st time degree seeking students as part of their first semester
    • Do you have information re: the cause for students leaving?  Can you track this information?  Retention Alert has only been running since January so it isn’t tracking it at this time.  The other processes do seem to gather some of this information including the liaisons.  
    • Timeframe for bringing Retention Alert LIVE – Summer of 2010 and then using in small groups in the fall and then full in Jan 2011
    • Using eAdvising & eGradeBook?  Using eAdvising?
    • Who has access to the Case studies?  Only the case liaisons – done through Datatel security
    • Is there anything to refer to Counseling? Can be addressed through Attention Alert and it can be setup however you want so that the case information goes directly through to the department that needs to know the information
    • Who identifies that there is a problem with Financial Aid – who reviews that?  One of the lists is a list of the people who have submitted for Fin Aid but their process is not complete – on the Retention Alert it is more based on the conversations that are happening
    • Possibly duplicated numbers of students in the numbers reported.  There is never more then ONE open case for a single student but if an additional new case is opened on that student then that can happen… although that depends on the “role” of the case – it can create two separate cases.  You can look at ALL the cases for a single student.  Can do an analysis on that student.  
    • What phone number are
      you contacting?  Dorm?  Cell phone?  They have multiple phones in the system… keep calling the numbers until they reach them
    • Does Attention Alert comes with basic canned reporting?  Yes but they build their own reports
    • Resident or Commuter?   Approx. 500 students living on-campus – good thing with Retention Alert because you may
    • Retention Alert delivered through WebAdvisor
    • Has been embraced throughout campus?  How did you promote this?  Has been conversations for 3 years about retention.  Found that training the faculty thoroughly and empowered everyone to know that there is a system to follow up.  A lot of the Retention Liaisons are faculty so getting to pitch to faculty helps.

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