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Chesapeake College retention rates rise

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Chesapeake College produced its highest retention rates this year in three-quarters of the categories covered in five-year trend data compiled by the college’s Office of Institutional Research and Planning.

The trend data, from 1999 through 2004, covers eight fall-to-spring and eight fall-to-fall retention categories for all students, with the college notching five-year highs in 13 of the 16 categories. Chesapeake reported data in the same categories for the same time period for minority students, reporting five-year highs in 11 of the 16 categories, according to college officials.

"We’re certainly very pleased with the data," said Dr. Stuart M. Bounds, Chesapeake College’s president. "We devote a lot of resources to retaining students and helping them achieve their academic goals, so it’s heartening to see those efforts pay dividends."

The increased retention rates reflect well on the students, faculty and staff, according to Dr. Rich Midcap, vice president for student success and enrollment services.

"It takes a real partnership between all three groups for students to persist and succeed," said Dr. Midcap. "We have a retention program in place that is built upon regular communication and feedback between students, their faculty members, and staff involved in retention and academic support."

Dr. Bounds noted the college is implementing several new initiatives this academic year that should positively impact retention data in the future, including the Success and Interactive Learning (SAIL) project directed at first-time, full-time students.

"SAIL combines the front-loading of important retention and academic support services with a unique incentive plan," said Counselor Joan Seitzer, who administers SAIL with fellow Counselor Amy Childs. "Students who complete this program and earn qualifying grade-point averages will earn spring semester tuition discounts based upon their fall grades. We think the program will help these students get off to a great start and increase both fall-to-spring and fall-to-fall retention rates."

The recent opening of the college’s Advising Center and a plan in development focusing on long-term academic planning will also be positive retention tools, according to Dr. Bounds.

The college reported five-year highs in seven of the fall-to-spring retention categories both among all students and among all minority students. Five of the fall-to-spring indicators increased by at least seven percentage points when all students were considered, with the largest one-year increase (from 55 percent to 68 percent) in the category of first-time, part-time, degree-seeking students.

Six of the fall-to-spring retention indicators for minority students showed one-year increases of eight or more percentage points, including double-digit increases in three categories. Retention rates for minority, first-time, part-time, degree-seeking students rose 14 percentage points (from 58 to 72 percent).

Ten of the fall-to-fall indicators – six for all students, and four for minority students – were also reported at five-year highs. Both first-time student and first-time, degree-seeking student retention rates rose six percent (to 49 percent and 53 percent, respectively), while minority, first-time, degree-seeking student retention rose nine points to 49 percent in Fall 2004.

Dr. Midcap said the data will also help the college focus on those areas where the retention rates are falling short of institutional goals.

"There are areas in which we clearly need to focus more efforts," said Dr. Midcap. "Our retention rates, both fall-to-spring and fall-to-fall, for minority, first-time, non-degree-seeking students both fell. One thing we think we need to do is get these students in degree programs based upon their skills and interests, and work more closely with them to help them achieve their academic goals."

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