Five data-informed steps to optimizing college student retention
By Tim Culver
How can your college or university raise student retention rates? Tim Culver explains how data-informed planning and action can help you meet institutional goals. The University of Texas made news this week as it unveiled an ambitious plan to raise its four-year graduation rate by 20 points for its next class of entering freshmen.
It’s a strong move and in my opinion a correct one. My colleague Jim Hundrieser has written before about why raising standards for student completion would benefit both institutions and students. In their rationale for pushing this change, Texas cited lowering the overall cost of attending college for students (and lowering potential debt loads) as well as using institutional resources more efficiently. Graduating more students in four years requires less time and money for the institution, which in turn frees up more resources to keep graduating students in a more timely fashion.
It’s an ambitious plan and I hope that Texas succeeds. At the same time, having helped many campuses with the same ambition, it’s also quite a challenge. Where do you begin? The answer is data. Simply put, data are the lifeblood to successful student recruitment and retention. You cannot possibly hope to maximize enrollment yields and student completion rates without strong data analysis and planning.
- Retaining College Transfer Students: Analyzing New Data on a Growing Opportunity (hollymccracken.wordpress.com)
- 2011 Student Retention Practices Report (hollymccracken.wordpress.com)