Because I’m a retention consultant, it’s probably no surprise to most of you that the number-one set of questions I get when I consult with college faculty and staff is, “Are we doing the right things for our students?” “What are other schools like us doing?” “How do we know what’s effective?” To begin answering these questions, take a look at 2011 Student Retention Practices at Four-Year and Two-Year Institutions, the latest report in our Benchmark Poll Report Series.
At first glance, there aren’t too many surprises in the report’s rankings. The standard retention strategies appear at or near the top of the lists of the most effective practices for the two-year and four-year public and private sectors. Some sectors rank effectiveness differently, but the old standbys are there. First-year experience programs, academic advising, academic support, early alert, and at-risk programming all make the list. (Please remember “at-risk” is institutionally defined and has multiple meanings to the reader.)
The report also compares effective practices across sectors on page 29, though I wouldn’t spend too much time comparing them since the environment for each sector is so different.