Our preliminary data for 2015 shows a marked increase for year-to-year retention, which is now 72.7%. The overall retention rate increased 14% from 5 years ago (a 63.7% retention rate) and 7% increase from 2014 (a 67.8% retention rate).
In January 2016, we formally centralized advisement, where the academic advisors pre-register all freshmen for 15 credit hours prior to their attending orientation, and discuss the need to take 15 hours (Fifteen to Finish) each semester during their orientation. Our professional academic advisors will advise freshmen and sophomore students. We believe the new structure will provide better coordination of advising, mentoring and coaching services and allow for improved advisor professional development to intentionally focus on freshmen and sophomore retention. The new advising team will also run our supplemental instructor (SI) program, which has expanded in the freshman and sophomore classes, contributing to a 1-2% higher retention rate in courses with SIs than students in courses without these programs. Implementation for the 2015-2016 academic years also include revising 15 to Finish initiatives, pilots of appreciative and intrusive advising training and SAP training for advisors.
As of Fall 2015, our freshmen retention rate, for associates and bachelor seeking students is currently 70.0% (Table 15). Our sophomore retention rate (bachelors seeking only) currently stands at 54.4%.
Interim Measure of Progress
Progress is measured by an increase in freshmen (bachelors and associate seeking) retention rate (Table 15), which hovers on average 68% year to year, but currently stands at 70.0% for Fall 2015 (10% points behind our CCG target of 80%). A reduction of students on SAP, a decrease in DFW rates and an increased number of credits completed in the first two years will show that we are headed in the right direction (Tables 10 & 12). Finally, increasing our sophomore retention rate, currently 54.4% for Fall 2015 (just 4.6% points needed to meet our CCG target of 59%) will significantly increase our overall retention and graduation rates.
Measure of Success
Our goal is to achieve an institutional 80% retention rate for FTFTF students and a sophomore retention rate of 59% by 2020. We are also targeting an increase in the % earned/% attempted hours (90%) as shown in Table 11 and increase in the number of students at the freshmen and sophomore year taking 15 credits each semester (by 1% per year, See Table 10).
Professional advisors are key to student retention, especially in the early college years. Professional advising and counseling take a significant investment of time and resources to be successful. The complicated curriculum, financial aid rules, and the many stresses that accompany the transition from high school to college are best managed by a dedicated professional advisor who is responsive to students and knows the resources available to the student. Students can and should be mentored by faculty to pursue their academic and professional dreams and engage in their academic discipline. Students often need additional support and coaching to realize their full potential. Pre-registration of all freshmen is best accomplished with teamwork and cross training. Most students and parents expressed satisfaction with their student’s schedule.