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Schools try to increase enrollment and graduation rates, but show low retention rates by Mind Map: Schools try to increase
enrollment and graduation
rates, but show low
retention rates
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Schools try to increase enrollment and graduation rates, but show low retention rates


Increase on-campus housing

Create more 3 year major tracks (instead of the 4 year track)

Outreach/Student involvement programs

Orientation Classes

School focus more on enrollment and recruitment than retention

Problem: Retention VS. Enrollment + Recruitment

Initial Responses

From colleagues

numbers are diluted by failing or smaller private universities

retention is already being focus on at many universities because of the increased number of graduation rates

Increased retention rates would be good for the university system because it would directly increase retention rates and indirectly increase enrollment

From people outside higher ed.

Why are they spending public money on bolstering their private initiatives?

creating initiatives to keep graduate students in 3 years inflates the job market

keeping students in school is great because now we will have more educated individuals entering the eorkforce

Researching similar issues around the country shows freshman to sophomore year attrition rates average 32% nationally (Raymundo, 2003).

"The major problem with the graduation rate as a measure is that it is usually a misleading indicator of an institution's capacity to retain its students" (Astin, 2004)

Belmont University has created a full-time professional position to “enhance the quality of the undergraduate experience, particularly as it pertains to sophomores" (“Jobs: director of,” 2011).

Potential outcomes

Increased interest in retention procedures and initiatives

Increased graduation rates due to the increased retention rates

Increased school rating because of the increased graduation rates

Increased enrollment due to increase alumni support and school ratings

Data to support outcomes

Less years to retain

If students are in school for a shorter period of time, then you don't have to try so hard and create new programs to retain them.

Decreases cost

"At non-elite colleges, especially privates, many students drop out because of cost. And a major factor in cost is time to degree, which increases significantly when a student changes majors" (Marty, 2008).

First-Year Experience Course

"Madonna University has seen its freshman-dropout rate decrease sharply since it started a similar course in 1990, says Sister Nancy Marie Jamroz, vice-president for student life. The university now requires all traditional-age freshmen to take an orientation course, called College 101, in their first or second semester" (Geraghty, 1996), "A number of colleges now require freshmen to take a course that provides them with basic information about campus resources and gives them suggestions about ways to adapt to the college environment" (Geraghty, 1996).

Second-Year Experience Course

Creating a “Sophomore Year Experience” has started to take hold at many universities including Stanford, Belmont, Emory University, Fairfield University, Greenville College, Hiram College, Indiana Wesleyan, University Kennesaw, State University, Loyola College, Macalaster College, McPherson College, Moravian College, Northeastern State, University, and more...


Astin, A.W. (2004, October 4). To use graduation rates to measure excelence, you have to do your homework. The chronicle of higher education, 51(9), Retrieved from

Geraghty, M. (1996, July 19). Data show more students quitting college before sophomore year: many institutions are trying to help their freshman adjust to campus life. The chronicle of higher education. Retrieved from

Jobs: director of sophomore year experience at belmont university. (2011, March 23). Retrieved from

Marty Nemko. (2008, June 9). Still need to improve retention? [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

Raymundo, J.C. (2003). The effects of an abbreviated freshman year seminar program on student retention and student academic performance. Research for educational reform, 8(2), (pp46-55). Retrieved from EBSCOhost.