The National Commission on Higher Education Attainment recently released an open letter to college and university leaders called, “College Completion Must Be Our Priority,” which extols the importance of focusing on college completion and student retention initiatives. Clearly, the momentum is building for higher education professionals to consider the total value that they offer to students and their families – one that includes the likelihood that students will graduate from the institution.
Note: This blog post was written in collaboration with Beth Richter, Ph.D., associate vice president of retention solutions for Noel-Levitz.
Those who are responsible for delivering services to college freshmen are frequently challenged to do more with less. At the same time, there is often a strong push to more fully meet the needs of first-year students. So how DO you determine which services require more or fewer resources? And on what basis are the staffing levels for these services ever “enough”?
To help with weighing the options, and to help more freshmen reach college completion, a new set of metrics is now available using Noel-Levitz’s early-alert Mid-Year Student Assessment and its accompanying 2012 Report: The Attitudes and Needs of Freshmen at Mid-Year, which aggregates the responses to the assessment from freshmen nationally. These metrics include:
- Freshman usage of campus services (academic support, career counseling, personal counseling, and financial guidance) by the end of the first term
- The percentages of freshmen requesting assistance in 24 areas and subareas at the middle of their first year vs. the beginning of their first year, including help with exam skills, creating an educational plan, and discussing attitudes toward school
These metrics, based on student surveys, can help with prioritization and retention management, and they can be especially valuable for determining differences in needs for specific groups of students (at-risk students, in-state vs. out-of-state students, nontraditional undergraduates, residential students vs. commuters, males vs. females, etc.). In addition, advisors, counselors, first-year experience instructors, and other student success professionals can use the findings to proactively identify and intervene with individual, at-risk students based on each student’s self-reported needs in each of the 24 areas examined.
What some freshmen want but aren’t getting enough of during their first term on campus
The following are examples of specific campus services that were unable to meet student demand between the start and the middle of the 2011-2012 academic year based on the self-reported survey responses of 4,000 freshmen nationally in the above-mentioned 2012 report.