First Year Seminars Aid Freshmen Students

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Student retention programs are on the rise.

Colleges and universities are doing what they can to retain their students, especially first year students who oftentimes drop out of school before their sophomore year. In December 2009, SayCampusLife explored the pressures facing today’s college students with drop outs saying they left school because they had difficulty balancing work, study and family relationships.

Indeed, the retention rate for students averages 66.7 percent between their first and second year of study and is as low as 55.7 percent at two year public colleges (technical and community colleges). That means everyone else has quit their schooling, with some never to return to college.

Retention Rates

Raising the retention rate has been on the mind of colleges administrators for some time with most schools now doing something to help students stay in school through retention programs. Author and speaker Harlan Cohen says that retention programs are beneficial as they, “…help students connect to the people, places, and resources that enable them to thrive inside and outside the classroom.” Cohen wrote “The Happiest Kid on Campus,” which we reviewed here in June 2010.

“Most students will have an amazing experience 90 percent of the time,” Harlan says. “But most will also struggle at times. It happens on all campuses. It’s normal. Most of the time, it’s not a reflection of the institution, rather the natural college experience. When the uncomfortable arrives (and it will) and expectations don’t meet reality, even the happiest kids on campus can get knocked off their feet.”

Trinity Example

In 1998, Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut recognized that a number of students who drop out of this small, private liberal arts school are students of color and formed a Retention Task Force to address the problem. As a result, the college has created and supported several initiatives to keep students around including hiring a learning disabilities specialist to provide diagnostic testing, develop learning strategies and create workshops to improve study habits. Social, cultural and financial needs have also been addressed, leading to improved retention at the school.

Cohen’s first book, “The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run into in College,” is used by more than a dozen colleges and universities as part of their freshmen retention program. The book addresses topics pertinent to students especially as they learn to adjust to their new surroundings and life apart from their families.

Resource

University of South Carolina National Resource Center Research


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Categories: Campus News