Better retention is top priority this fall at SWTJC

Email this article 11/08/2013

Finding ways to improve semester to semester retention rates is a top priority this fall at SWTJC, as spring registration continues.

According to SWTJC Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Blaine Bennett, the college is being much more intentional in trying to address fall to spring retention rates.

"Our data shows that traditionally we lose around 23% of currently enrolled students from the fall to spring," Bennett said. "While we generally pick up most of the decrease through new enrollment in the spring, we need to do better in keeping the students we already have."

To that end, Bennett said his division has set a goal of improving fall to spring retention by 5% this year. Having an earlier start to registration is one thing the college has instituted to help reduce the drop in enrollment.

"By starting earlier, we have more time to keep tabs on who has and hasn't registered," Bennett said. "If a current student hasn't registered we are doing everything we can to contact them and get them in to see an advisor to find out why."

Bennett encourages any current student contemplating not registering in the spring to contact an advisor before deciding not to enroll.

"We realize there are a variety of reasons that students don't come back," Bennett said. "But all the statistics show that students with gaps in enrollment reduce their chances of earning a degree or certificate, so we want our students to visit with our staff before they make a final decision."

Lack of success in the classroom is one of the causes of students not re-enrolling, so the college is also working hard to intervene early with struggling students by keeping up with their attendance and grades.

"If a student is not attending class we contact them, and once mid-term grades come out we contact them to offer congratulations if they are doing well, or encourage them to seek help from their instructor, our student success centers, or an advisor, if they are failing," Bennett said.

Finances are another obstacle to students re-enrolling and Bennett said there are several options available to help students pay their tuition and fees.

"We offer a payment plan option, where students make a down payment and then monthly payments until their balance is clear," Bennett said.  "There is also some scholarship money available, in addition to federal and state financial aid." Students should contact the financial aid office or business office for financial assistance.

The bottom line, according to Bennett, is for students to seek help. "We are committed to seeing our students succeed," Bennett said. "However, we need the students to do their part by asking for help."

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