How Colleges Can Increase Student Retention

Research conducted by the College Board (.pdf/1.41MB) in partnership with the Project on Academic Success at Indiana University and the Center for Enrollment Research and Practice at the University of Southern California found that institutions are making organizational and programmatic efforts to improve student retention. These actions include the following:

  • Regularly analyzing retention rates
  • Charging an administrator with retention coordination
  • Appointing a retention committee
  • Implementing early warning systems
  • Requiring first-year students to meet with advisers at least once

The study also raises questions around the efficacy of these efforts and whether institutions are devoting enough resources to meeting the complex challenge of improving student persistence and graduation rates. In particular, the study found that on average only a little over one-third full-time equivalent (FTE) was formally allocated to the retention coordinator role, and these administrators usually had little authority and few resources to implement new program initiatives.

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