Lynchburg College is a small, private liberal arts institution serving students from diverse geographic regions with a wide range of academic performance (high school GPAs ranging from 2.5 to 4.0). Because of this diversity, Lynchburg College has made it a campuswide priority to understand the needs of incoming students and connect them to the resources they need to succeed.
Since 1998, the campus has used the College Student Inventory (CSI), an assessment for incoming freshmen. The CSI measures the self-reported strengths and challenges for students along with their receptivity to assistance. It has helped Lynchburg identify at-risk students earlier and make more targeted interventions. The student data also provide valuable information for academic advisors.
After more than a decade with the CSI, Lynchburg decided to enhance its retention efforts by adding another component: predictive modeling for student retention with the Student Retention Predictor (SRP). This combines the college’s enrollment data with the CSI data into a powerful statistical model that provides comprehensive student retention analytics. Being able to gather data from multiple points efficiently and effectively has helped the college build on proactive retention strategies already in place.
One key factor that spurred Lynchburg to add this predictive modeling element was the inclusion of a sweeping, integrated online portal called the Retention Data Center. This portal not only makes it very easy for the campus to manage its retention analytics, but also allows it to prioritize first-year students based on their retention scores, run key strategic reports, customize the scope of student records, and provide advisors with key information about individual students or populations.
“With the Student Retention Predictor, we are able to not only see a more comprehensive picture, but we are able to get into the Retention Data Center and do something with the data. It isn’t just there to look at—it is there to use,” says Mari Normyle, assistant dean for academic and career services at the college. This became increasingly crucial for the campus as its enrollments grew over the years, especially after enrolling the largest class in school history in 2011.
With student retention, there are a host of variables that can contribute to a student persisting. Academics, motivations, family background, social attitudes, and finances are just some of the myriad factors that can affect whether students complete their educational goals. But what role do these factors play in retention?