My clients on campuses sometimes ask, “Tim, before you joined Noel-Levitz and when you were still in our shoes, employed by a campus, what are some things you didn’t do right?” Wow! There are many things I didn’t do right or could have done better. I had the right goal, to improve fall-to-spring and fall-to-fall retention rates, but often I didn’t have the right strategies (art and science) in place. In this article I’d like to continue this conversation with you and discuss how you can use both art and science to strengthen your retention approaches, especially with an eye toward improving your first-year student assessment and early-alert systems as students transition to campus and continue to their second term and second year.
Recently when I was on a campus, my contact, let’s call her Pat, asked me, “Tim, is what we’re doing with our first-year assessment and early-alert system really early enough and are we missing opportunities to better understand our students? Isn’t it too late by mid-term for many students? Couldn’t we start to know the issues that are putting our students at risk earlier than we do?”