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Improving retention

First Year Retention and Student Transition (FYRST) Program

Oreo cookies and calzones have taught us that the middle is the most important part. The same goes for first-year student percentiles, say leaders at Indiana University Southeast.

“We needed to boost our first-year student interventions,” Jason Meriwether, vice chancellor for enrollment management and student affairs, says thinking back to 2013. Student enrollment and retention figures had incrementally declined.

App Factory

You know your new multidisciplinary internship program is going to be a hit when, early on, a graduating intern posts his résumé on Monster.com and lands a job right away— followed by weeks of hounding by rabid recruiters. He had to change his phone number to get the calls to stop.

What made him such a hot commodity? His experience at the App Factory, a year-round paid internship program at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Captains Anchored for Success: A Universitywide Retention Program Enhanced by Technology

Jeannine Leger, director of academic support services at Christopher Newport in Newport News, Virginia, has a concise description of who has a vested interest in college students’ success: “Everybody at the institution.”

That mindset helps to explain the breadth of departments contributing to the university’s decade-long retention program, Captains Anchored for Success.

Bridge Scholars Program

Emily Chan, a social psychologist who studies how prejudice affects academic achievement, brings a research-based approach to supporting the students from underrepresented backgrounds who participate in Colorado College’s Bridge Scholars Program.

Chan, an associate dean for academic programs and strategic initiatives at the Colorado Springs institution, cites 15 years of studies that illustrate the importance of integrating such students into the full collegiate environment.

Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes

That an NCAA Division I school provides its student-athletes with academic support services is hardly news. What differentiates Louisiana State University’s efforts is that its support encompasses more than just academics.

LSU’s Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes comprises both an academic affairs division and a student affairs division. The goal is to support student-athletes in their studies as well as in financial literacy, health and wellness, dealing with the media, and other areas.

Peak Performance Mathematics Bridge Program

The introduction in 2010 of a math placement test for incoming Northern Arizona University students revealed that many of them needed remedial courses. Between 2009 and 2011, the number of students enrolled in developmental math programs nearly doubled, from 300 to 650.

Like most universities, Northern Arizona had previously relied on SAT and ACT test scores for math placement. However, new research increasingly indicates the SAT is not as indicative of math readiness as previously thought, says Mary Fulé, coordinator of mathematics and statistics.

Personalized Achievement Contract Program

Because so many of the students at Mercy College are the first in their family to reach higher education, they aren’t likely to have a home-based support system to help them navigate some of the basics of attending college.

“They can’t go to mom or dad or Uncle Bill and say, ‘How did you pick a major?’ or ‘How did you decide what you wanted to go into as a career?’ ” says Catherine Cioffi, director of public relations at the Hispanic-serving institution, located in Dobbs Ferry, New York.

Veteran Student Academic Intervention Program

With as many as 24 percent of National University’s students having served in the military, officials saw a need to support the transition to civilian life and college.

So the San Diego-based institution created the Veteran Student Academic Intervention Program in 2012 to help members of the military earn their degree.

Academic support was the greatest need reported by the university’s military students. Approximately 300 veterans per term find themselves on academic probation (GPA below 2.0) or at risk of being placed on probation (GPA between 2.0 and 2.25).

Tulane Success Coaching

Typically, when students hear they have been recommended for an academic support program it is viewed as punitive. Their attitude toward participating is shaped by the sense that they have done something wrong.

For that reason, previous efforts at Tulane University to assist students with academic challenges “proved to be difficult and ineffective,” says Michele Oelking, director of the Academic Success Center. Still, the need for a program to aid students in achieving academic, personal and career goals—particularly students with ADHD—was evident.

Comfort Dog Program

One of the most popular public figures on the Concordia University Wisconsin campus isn’t a student or long-time faculty member, but rather a celebrity of the canine variety. 

Zoey, a golden retriever, stars in Concordia’s two-year-old Comfort Dog Program, which offers stress reduction, emotional relief and improved well-being to students, faculty and staff. “Zoey provides what amounts to a canine version of a deep breath,” says Dave Enters, director of counseling services and head of the program.

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