Student Retention remains priority
Jessica Pellegrino – General Assignment Reporter
Late last semester, Southern Connecticut State University released a final report for the Student Success Task Force. The task force sought out to increase student retention. Student retention refers to maintaining individuals as students instead of losing them to transferring or leaving to university.
The report states: “Southern’s most recent data reflect a four-year graduation rate of 17% and a six-year graduation rate of 49%. While these figures have trended slightly upward in recent years, Southern continues to lag behind its competitors and national averages.”
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the average four-year graduation rate for all public Connecticut Universities in 60 percent.
Recently, Southern has been increasing action to try to boost retention for the university, particularly for students in the span of sophomore to junior year.
In the spring semester of 2013, President Papazian created the Student Success Task Force to combat the retention issues.
The report introduces the task force program by saying, “We considered ways to support all of our undergraduate students: full-time, part-time and transfers. Graduate and non-degree seeking students were not part of the charge of the Task Force, but many of the recommendations found in this report will, undoubtedly, make a positive impact on our entire student body.”
The task force desires to find the root of the retention problem. The report recommends the following as possible solutions: Advance a Culture of “Student-Centeredness,” Create a Student Success Center, Transform Academic Advising, Modify Academic Programs, Policies & Instruction, Refresh University Branding & Marketing and Improve Student Financing and Affordability.
Some possible routes of action include making the academic advising more extension, making student life more approachable and look at the cost of attendance.
The task force says, “Student success is Southern’s highest priority: to accomplish our efforts to support students’ attainment of degrees and help them realize their academic and personal goals, each and every member of the campus community must become a stakeholder in their success. We must create a culture where students are unquestionably the center of our work. In our interactions and delivery of services, our approach should indicate they are the reason we come to work every day.”
One of the actions Southern is taking is improving the academic advising program to be more useful to upperclassmen. This includes using the advising program for more than just making schedules. Advisors can help students write their resumes and apply for graduation. The idea is that if Southern can make successful undergraduates, they can aid in making successful alum.
Another form of retention is making students feel like they have a place at Southern. Retention relies on students having a sense of belonging on campus.
“Students need to believe that Southern offers them a unique experience that they cannot get somewhere else. They need to make connections, develop relationships, and invest enough of themselves so that they would feel some kind of loss if they departed the university,” says the report.
In other words, Southern thrives to make students feel like Southern is their home and that they will feel a loss when they finally graduate.
The full report can be found on Southern’s website.