Once we identify students as at-risk, proactive communication is an essential next step. This dialogue can be the first thing that impacts students’ decisions to remain enrolled.

The ability to communicate immediately and frequently with these students is invaluable in keeping them on campus and ensuring that they have all the resources they need to stay enrolled. This makes all the difference in getting through to students before they make a final decision.

Plug in and recharge

We achieved positive results in our first year: Freshman retention rates rose from 76 to 81.5 percent. Rather than rest on our laurels, however, we examine our retention programs from all angles each year to improve them and add new programs. Our self-evaluation evolves each semester, but the following methods have proven successful:

  • Survey non-retained students to see what issues affected their decision to drop out or not re-enroll
  • Ask faculty for continuous feedback on the issues they believe affect students academically and socially
  • Run focus groups with at-risk students to understand what issues most concern them

As the director of retention, I ensure that our retention efforts gather a holistic view of the entire CLU campus. Central management, along with outreach, keeps us on the road to success–one student at a time.

Angela Naginey is the director of retention at California Lutheran University.


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