Committee looks to raise student retention

IUS Horizon

A committee discussed possible changes to be brought up to the chancellor and vice chancellors about ways to keep students at IU Southeast.

In order to continue receiving a certain amount of money, the school must find ways to retain students so they graduate here instead of dropping out or transfer to another school. The official six-year federal graduation rate at IU Southeast is 30 percent.

“What we have heard from the Board of Trustees and the state is we need some improvements,” Gilbert Atnip, vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, said. “I think the state wants more college graduates in Indiana, and the state has attached money to it. It used to be about your enrollment. Now it’s also based off of graduation rate, as well.”

Some of the changes the committee looked into was modifying the way advising is done. This would entail expanding the First-Year Seminar to a second semester.

“There might be some changes next year,” Atnip said. “However, spring of next year is when I see them all being put in.”

Atnip said the second semester of FYS won’t affect those who are already here and have taken their semester of it. It will only affect the students who enter after the changes take effect.

“We looked at best practices from all around the country to find out the best way to approach adding a second semester of the First-Year Seminar,” Donna Dahlgren, associate professor of psychology and FYS coordinator, said. “We have a lot of first-generation students. What we want to do is give them milestones that will help them throughout their college life and career.”

Dahlgren said they proposed the second semester of FYS to cover how to understand the Academic Advising Report and teach students professional social skills.

Dahlgren also talked about a few other aspects in the proposal, such as good financial management as it relates to college.

Dana Creamer, School of Social Sciences adviser, said financial literacy would be taught.

“We want to make sure students understand how to spend their money wisely,” she said.

“We also want to focus on making sure the students understand how the courses fall into their curriculum and will help them in their career choice.”

Brittany Hubbard, director of Financial Aid, said they recommended hiring eight new advisers to interact more with the faculty.

“The changes that we would like to put into effect for the advising process are to put the advisers in the schools so they get more connectivity with their major,” Hubbard said.

She also talked about creating learning communities on campus.

“The learning communities will help students feel more connected to their peers by placing a few students who share the same major together,” Hubbard said. “This will help them be connected to others on the campus and helping them choose to stay here.”

There was also talk of living-learning communities, which would put students in the same dorm room.

“The living-learning communities are more for undeclared majors,” Hubbard said. “Pairing them up in the classroom and in their living space would help them connect with other students, as well as the faculty in Residence Life, who would have activities to help them find what they want to do in college or their life.”

The cost for all of this is something that is being figured out.

“It’s really difficult to put an accurate price tag on this considering everything we are doing.” Hubbard said. “The First-Year Seminar will bring in revenue, however hiring eight new advisers will cost money, as well.”

The changes still have to be approved by the vice chancellors and the chancellor.