It costs much more to recruit new students than to keep the ones you have, which is why retention is so important to colleges and universities.
With a 67 percent one-year retention rate costing $6.5 million in lost revenue annually, Valdosta State University (Ga.) officials knew they had to act. The problem was data that could have helped identify remedies were sorely lacking, and what little information the institution possessed was difficult to access and analyze.
“You could get a course list and a list of students in your class,” says Brian Haugabrook, director of Valdosta’s data warehouse, “but you didn’t know much more about them—how they were doing, what high school they went to—basic information to help faculty be more effective.”
“Once you knew there was a problem,” adds Andy Clark, associate vice president for enrollment management, “you couldn’t dig in and find out where the [underlying] problems were.”