After reading the Berger, Ramirez, and Lyons text, “Past to Present: A Historical Look at Retention,” and the Hagedorn text, “How to Define Retention: A New Look at an Old Problem,” I have gained a greater knowledge of the subject. To be honest, in the past I never thought about retention. I was never aware of the graduation or retention statistic and I certainly didn’t know how close I was considered to be on the “not graduating” side.
The first time I remember thinking about retention was after I saw a sign in my House Fellow’s window. The sign read, “1 in 3 freshmen leave the UW after one semester due to alcohol related issues,” or something along those lines. It has been a few years so bear with me! I thought that was an incredible statistic because I was not much of a partier. I could not understand that lifestyle or mentality.
Now that I am in graduate school and I have heard time and time again how important retention and graduation rates are, they have begun to sink in. Thinking back to that moment with my House Fellow now sickens me. I can’t believe that number was so high. Madison was having issues with retention back in 2010 and I had no clue.
My story, unfortunately is probably something many share. It seems obvious that these are important when sitting and thinking about retention and graduation rates. However, the real trouble comes from people, like myself, not even thinking about it. Retention is such a huge issue surrounding colleges today yet no one knows anything about it. No one knows the magic formula to retain students. No one knows exactly how to get students out in four-years. This includes the students, staff, faculty, and administrators at an institution.
It is all fine and dandy to write a history of retention and the issues leading to it but that would not be enough. In order to truly understand the effects to be had by increased numbers in retention, one must see it for his or herself. Then the importance will really sink in.