Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Who Really Cares about Retention?

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Who Really Cares about Retention?

Article excerpt

Society's influence on elementary and secondary students has left many of our young people less than prepared for college. The poor academic preparation of incoming freshman also has made retaining these students at the postsecondary level more difficult.

If higher education Is going to embrace these students, it is important for institutions to establish a campus-wide commitment to retention while simultaneously implementing a variety of strategies to help students accomplish their educational goals. Colleges and universities must construct a learning environment that offers the best chance for all students to progress, regardless of their class or color.

Colleges must first have campus-wide awareness of the importance of retaining its students. Stakeholders should include faculty, students service providers, administrators, trustees, the college president, counselors, advisors, taxpayers, support staff and students. Only then can the commitment be reflected in college services, procedures, personnel attitudes as well as campus policies. Arriving at this commitment involves introspection. Campus leaders must ask: What is it that drives our college campus most? Is it student centered or full-time employee driven? What are our president's priorities? Are retention-focused Values reflected in our college in-service and staff development activities? Does our college have a strong commitment to a diverse faculty and staff?

Step One: One of the most important steps in the retention process begins the first week students are on campus. It is then that they get a feel for the spirit of an institution. The people conducting enrollment and orientation activities should be friendly, communicative and enthusiastic.

Orientation sessions are usually when students learn about the college, its mission, expectations, standards, accomplishments, and basically how the system works, but they also offer a good opportunity to share information about scholarships and financial aid, campus services, and course selection.

Counseling Services: Such services can facilitate the campus retention management system by obtaining valuable information about the learning styles, study strategies and educational plans of students. Many colleges utilize the skills of instructors to assist in the advising process, which helps students get acquainted with them before classes begin. …

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