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Student Retention

Public institutions may have lower graduation rates, but in moving students toward graduation, it appears they’re more successful than private institutions, according to a report assessing graduation rates from the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. It introduces a new method for predicting an institution’s graduation rate, based on social, economic, and psychological characteristics of incoming students.

With Latinos now representing one in six U.S. residents, the international competitiveness of the nation will depend on the academic success of Latino students, notes the opening of a recent College Board report on Latino college completion. Although the national average of 25- to 34-year-olds in 2009 who had attained an associate degree or higher was 41 percent, just 19 percent of Latinos had done so.

Sometimes you don’t even know you need a solution until one presents itself. At least that’s how Tegrity Lecture Capture grew from a classroom product to a tool embedded in nearly every aspect of Lawson State Community College. 

The college implemented Tegrity in 2005. With 60 percent of the Birmingham, AL, college’s students holding down full- or part-time work, the school hoped to increase engagement, improve its retention level and help working students with attendance issues, notes Academic Dean Sherri Davis. 

The oft-noted statistics are grim: only about half of college students complete any degree or certificate within six years, according to the Information Center for Higher Education Policy Making and Analysis. In the fall of 2010, public policy firm HCM Strategists and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched a series of conversations for institutional leaders dedicated to increasing success for students traditionally underrepresented in higher education. HCM staff also conducted interviews with 30 campus leaders.

The success of online education giant University of Phoenix has inspired a host of web-based higher learning and career training institutions. And while this increase is indicative of a growing demand for remote learning options, it also makes delivering the right student to the right school more challenging. Generating leads for the sake of generating leads is an inefficient customer acquisition strategy.


Student-athletes face the daunting task of keeping up with their studies while also devoting considerable time to practicing, competing, and traveling. That pressure extends upward to coaches, administrators, and faculty members, who are required to assess student progress and make adjustments amidst wildly varying schedules.


Retaining freshman students is a vital yet difficult task. Utah Valley University, with its primarily commuter campus, found it especially onerous, with about six out of 10 first-year students opting not to return for their sophomore years. Given that one of the requirements of the Title III grant it had received was to increase retention, the university had a particularly vested interest in succeeding.


Typical college students, you’ve probably realized, are not 9-to-5 kinds of people. With classes, socializing, part-time jobs, and a myriad of other duties and desires crowding their schedules, they live by clocks that vary widely. This can be a problem for those tasked with providing them the services that help optimize their collegiate experience. Many of those folks, after all, work more traditional schedules and aren’t around to answer a call from a student on her way from her waitressing gig to the library to get some late-night studying in.

As students returned to campus this year, administrators had the chance to motivate them to succeed in school with findings of the most recent study on how college degrees are critical to economic opportunity. Conducted by The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, with support from the Lumina Foundation, the study found that those with a bachelor's degree now make 84 percent more over a lifetime than those with only a high school diploma, up from 75 percent in 1999.


Most people go to Disney to relax and have fun. For the past three years, David Zanolla, a communication instructor at Western Illinois University, has taken students in his Disney World Communication Culture course to see the principles they learn about in class in action. "The people who needed the most convincing were the parents," he says, adding that the spring break timeframe is usually thought of as party time. But with a daily schedule of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., students have a full plate.