More than 200 college and university employees gathered at Pace University last Friday for the first-ever retention conference to provide insight and solutions on how to support students as they work toward earning their degree.
With many institutions throughout the country addressing student success and the effects it has on first- and second-year retention rates, Pace provided several workshops and lectures throughout the day to help address the issue.
“It is our collective responsibility to make sure that all of the students that enter our institutions, whether they are two-year or four-year, have the tools to succeed both in college and outside of college once they graduate,” said Sue Maxam, assistant vice president for student success. “We have an obligation to help our students succeed to the best of our abilities.”
Uday Sukhatme, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, added that if a student drops out before graduation the university has likely failed.
“It is our moral duty to give every admitted student the best shot at success,” he added. “We must use all available resources in as optimal a manner as possible in order to make sure students get the help they need when they most need it.”
During the event, keynote speaker Scott Evenbeck, president of Guttman Community College in New York City, explained the successful techniques and practices he has implemented since his college opened in 2012. With a mission to support student achievement in a dynamic, inclusive and intellectually engaging environment, Evenbeck explained that prior to enrollment, students are encouraged to visit months earlier for several informational sessions.
“I’m absolutely convinced that if all American colleges have students come for a session the winter before and then they come again for individual sessions that we would see a 5 percent increase in retention,” he said.
Students are also not allowed to enroll following the enrollment deadline. Evenbeck added that the college doesn’t help anyone if the deadline is ignored.
As a college with limited majors, students must enroll full-time during their first year and are required to take specific courses related to the city in order to combine new knowledge with their existing knowledge. Additionally, while no remedial classes are offered, extra time is scheduled for students to build their skills.
Evenbeck added that in order to keep students enrolled, the administration structured the school calendar providing year-round education to avoid an additional cost for summer and winter semesters.
Assessments are also conducted 10 times throughout the year to analyze the learning rubric, student achievement, student belonging and the value of the curriculum in order to provide a hands-on environment where students can succeed.
“When you put all these things together, you can move the dial and the students will succeed,” Evenbeck said.