Student Retention and Persistence

  • April 11, 2014

Orientation is a form of guidance that gives students the tools to be successful throughout their education paths.  According to the California Student Success Task Force, “extensive research has documented the importance of assessment, orientation, and informed education planning to set incoming students on a pathway to a successful outcome”.

Collegeboard.com has found that research has continually found a positive relationship between participating in orientation programs and student persistence.  In addition, institutions with lower persistence rates were less likely to require students to participate in orientation programs. Studies have also found that orientation programs directly affect retention rates, a key factor in students’ success.

Student retention is a shared goal for many orientation programs, considering it can increase the likelihood of student success. Joe Cuseo from Marymount College found that Student Retention is linked to four main roots: Academic, Motivational, Psychological, and Financial. To combat these “root issues”, he suggested various strategies including (Cuseo, Student Retention: The Big Picture):

I. Academic

A. College & high school faculty collaborate to identify key preparatory knowledge

B. New Faculty Recruitment and Orientation

 

II. Motivational

A. Showcasing alumni stories, intrusive promotion of students’ long-range planning

B. Integration of academic advising & career counseling services

 

III. Psychological

A. Increasing amount and accuracy of institutional and departmental information available to students prior to entry (ie Orientation)

B. New-student orientation programming, “extended orientation course”-

(ie. Student Success Course)

 

IV. Financial

A. Financial-aid & money management information tools

B. Strategies for financial aid planning

 

A survey done by Collegeboard.com found that many participating institutions have been making serious efforts to provide high-quality orientation programs. About 90% of these same institutions found that at least half of their first year students participated fully in their orientation program. While this percentage may be large, it still indicates that about 50% of new students are NOT attending orientation—which could be due to geographical or time conflict barriers.

In order to ensure that every new-student has the opportunity to attend orientation, an online orientation option is crucial. As discussed above, orientation has proven to increase retention and persistence—meaning institutions needs to find a way to make their orientation options flexible for students, who often have a changing schedule.  Comevo can provide this flexible option, allowing students to access important information anytime, anywhere.

To further increase retention, Cuseo’s strategies listed above should also be weaved throughout an orientation program. Including tools like our “Turnkey Financial Aid Module”,  financial issues can be relieved.

Institutions should also consider additional orientation programs like faculty orientation or extended orientation courses. With Comevo’s online software, creating multiple orientation programs is easier than ever.