Carroll University, Wisconsin's oldest four-year institution of higher education, aims to provide students with "a vibrant academic experience," says President Douglas N. Hastad. "Our goal is to help students succeed by supporting them as they pursue their degrees." The University recognizes that retaining students is just as important as enrolling new students, and more cost-effective than recruitment. The university is committed to helping students graduate, and to maintaining enrollments that will sustain the institution during challenging economic times like these. That was the impetus behind an innovative student retention initiative that has proven to be highly effective.
To help the university undertake its retention initiative, longtime technology partner Jenzabar worked closely with the institution to develop a combination of sophisticated, customizable software and professional services that enables Carroll to target at-risk students: Jenzabar Retention Management Solution.
Carroll University uses a Jenzabar ERP system, integrated with Jenzabar's Internet portal. The flexibility of those products, combined with Jenzabar's deep understanding of the value of retention and its history of partnership with client institutions, made Jenzabar a natural choice for collaborating on the retention initiative.
The first step in building the new program was to identify the factors that help predict student attrition at Carroll University, and to leverage Jenzabar technology to identify the students who are most at risk of leaving. The next step was to create a process to help those students stay in school.
To predict the persistence of an individual student, Jenzabar Retention Management Solution utilizes a mathematical model derived from historical retention data and applies it to current freshman data. Data variables range from academic factors and demographic data to financial information. The system compares the model to the data in each student's record daily, and categorizes students according to their probability of leaving.
Alerts are sent for every at-risk student, enabling the institution to proactively intervene. Carroll's director of student success is now able to identify the factors that trigger an at-risk status, track changes in student attrition, gather reports from a Web-based, campus-wide alert system, and subsequently develop a personalized retention plan for each student.
Along with Jenzabar RMS, a campus-wide retention initiative led the university to modify policies and procedures that contribute to attrition, including residency requirements, registration holds, and even weekend meal hours.
Innovative technology and intervention strategies have clearly helped the Carroll University reach its retention goals. By deploying tools and techniques to deal with at-risk students effectively- before they decide to leave - the campus was able to increase the chances that those students will earn degrees instead of dropping out, and retain revenues that might have been lost.
"The Jenzabar Retention Management Solution system benefited the university greatly," said Vice President of Enrollment Jim Wiseman. "At the end of the school year, the freshman-to-sophomore retention exceeded our expectations." From fall 2008 to fall 2009, the first retention period in the program, Carroll realized a two percent increase in the number of first-time freshmen retained in a single school year. That increase, particularly during a worldwide economic recession, tells a powerful story about Carroll University and its dedication to helping students earn their degrees.
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