Retention rate report released

IUS Horizon

The retention rate report for 2007 was released by the Indiana University Reporting and Research Web site in mid-October.

The report for the fall 2007 cohort showed that overall retention of students pursuing second year studies at IU Southeast was 60.5 percent. This percentage is down by 1.8 percent from the fall 2006 report.

“These results are pretty typical. It’s very interesting. We try to find out why students don’t want to come back, most say life happened,” Gilbert Atnip, vice chancellor of Academic Affairs, said.

Transfer student retention from the 2006 cohort showed 65.7 percent of students remained. The 2007 cohort showed a drop from 65.7 percent to 61.3 percent, showing a drop of 4.4 percent.

The percentages of male and female retention showed significant differences from the 2006 cohort. Males persisting at IU Southeast in 2006 had a rate of 61.3 percent, while females had 59.6 percent. In the 2007 report male retention dropped to 54.7 percent and female retention increased to 64.1 percent.

There were also differences in retention percentages as recorded by age. Students that were 20 – 21 at the time of entry dropped 8.6 percent from the 2006 report. However, students 22-24 increased by 18.2 percent according to the 2007 report.

During the five-year span in retention rates, the retention percentages vary from 57 percent to 63 percent for beginners and 60 percent to 66 percent for transfer students.

IU Southeast ranks sixth with the Fort Wayne campus in the overall ability to retain students. Overall the average retention rate for all IU campuses has increased by 1.5 percent.

Atnip said IU President Michael McRobbie had created an initiative called Degrees of Excellence to help increase graduate rates. Not necessarily increasing retention rates, but that increasing graduates could help the retention rates as well.

The Degrees of Excellence initiative, described in McRobbie’s presidential address, is designed to work for the next five years and will request that all IU campuses to set aside 5 percent of existing non-academic budgets.

Using the money set aside, each campus will then use it to start individual initiatives aimed at targeting students that have not graduated, but are only a few credits short of degree or program completion or have not returned due to lack of finances.

The total money set aside from each campus should total around $4 million, as a base investment, to aid with efforts to help students earn a degree more quickly.

“McRobbie has asked IU Southeast to identify money that we could put towards this initiative and state how we see it would help,” Atnip said, “such as extending the First-Year Seminar programs and providing more financial assistance.”

In the first year, The Degrees of Excellence initiative led to $2 million in cuts from administrative spending, and placed those funds toward programs that are aimed at increasing the number of degrees earned.

McRobbie’s initiative is now entering the second year of operation.

The addition of lodges to IU Southeast was part of the idea that adding housing to campus would increase the amount of students that would stay with the university and continue on to further their education, rather than transferring.

However, even McRobbie realized that only adding campus housing would not entirely increase the rates.

“Our efforts to improve graduation rates are closely linked to Campus Life. A crucial element in these choices is the quality of the student learning and living environment… We must ensure that both environments are of the highest quality,” McRobbie said in a press release.

“The key to student retention is the more the student is active on campus the more likely they are to stick around,” Atnip said, “If you’re only looking at the rate, you’re only getting half the picture.”

The enrollment management committee and student recruitment and retention committee part of the faculty senate are discussing ways to coordinate student retention efforts on campus.

Staff Writer