Retention Is Kind Of A Big Deal


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.


My Turn to Brag!

My Turn to Brag

The Chronicle of Higher Education website has a great resource entitled, “College Completion.”  It shows research based on longitudinal studies.  Of the 4.3 million students who enrolled in college in 2004, the site shows what types of institutions they graduated from and in what numbers.  The number one school is the University of Illinois-Champaign with close to 6,100 students.  Going down the side with the largest chunks, eight Big Ten schools are listed.  As an alumnae of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of the eight schools, I was thrilled to see this.  I feel as though I have to defend my education constantly.  However, to see Big Ten schools graduating some of the largest populations of students makes me SO HAPPY.  It’s like, in your face sucka!  My school is better than yours!  I must admit that validation is pretty nice.

Also, this is a great resource as you can break down the results futhur through the use of filters.  These filters include: institution, state, etc.

Want to see where your school or state ranks?  Take a look using the website below:

What About Me?!

I do not know why I never realized this before.  Maybe I did realize it but was just too dumb to think it all the way through.  Here I have been thinking about my persistence story when according to statistics I did not really persist.  Looking at tells me that I am one of the 2.1 million students that did not actually graduate.  I did not persist within the definition of the phrase “persistence to graduation.”  However, I did graduate.  I did persist.  I think it is a shame that those numbers are not accounted for.  What about the transfer students?  What about me?

UW-Madison Scorecard


I will admit, I am extremely proud of my undergraduate institution.  I LOVE being a badger.  I have been one in spirit since I was a little girl.  I officially became one in 2010.  Graduated as one in May of 2012.  Ever since then I have been boasting about Sconnie Nation with no intention of stopping.  Honestly, that is student affairs for you.  You fall in love with your undergraduate so much that you want to keep living that experience for the rest of your life while helping other students do the same.

Now, all this talk about persistence has really got me thinking about the UW in a way I had not before.  The Department of Education recently released Scorecards on every higher education institution in the United States.  Wanting to continue my boasting, I looked up Madison.

Luckily for me, Madison has a lot to boast about.  The cost is in the low medium range at a little under $15,000 per year.  They graduate 82% of students within 6 years, which is on the high side of the high end of the scale.  Also “1.4% of borrowers defaulted on their Federal student loans within three years of entering repayment.”  The national average is around 13%.  Madison must be doing something right.  On Wisconsin!

Read More at:

How To Succeed in College Without Even Trying?

As I sit down and begin reading Increasing Persistence by Habley, Bloom, and Robbins, I start to realize just how many factors really play into student success.  I know that we have talked about it MILLIONS (literally millions) of times during class but seeing the statistics and research really makes a bold statement.  This week’s reading really gave some perspective that I had never thought of but also reaffirmed what I already knew.

For instance, the chapter of student engagement was fairly basic for me.  I work in the Office of Student Life on campus.  I know that student engagement, leadership, and service to the community make a student more likely to persist.  I know this because I see it play out five-days a week in the office.  I know that my students are more likely to do well in their courses than others because they have a reason to succeed beside themselves.  Most of my students have to have a 2.5 or higher to keep their position.  This is a motivator for them.

However, the chapters on academic preparation and psychosocial characteristics were something relatively new for me.  It was not that I did not realize the importance of these two things.  It was more that I just had not really put a name to the two.  Of course it makes sense that retention and persistence is correlated with how well a student does in high school.  If a student is not motivated in high school he or she probably will not be highly motivated by the free living lifestyle that college offers.  Also, if a student is having troubles with believing he or she should be in college, he or she is less likely to stay there.  Self-concept and support from peers and family are very important factors that play into a student’s success.

For me, once I found my niche at Wisconsin, persisting was not hard.  I was right where I wanted to be with the people I wanted to be with.  I was able to motivate myself.  I consider myself very lucky.  However, before I got there, I was extremely unhappy.  However, based on all the factors I read about today, as a student affairs professional I would have never pegged myself as a student with persistence issues.  If I was administering a MAPs Test at BSU to myself, I would have scored in the low risk category.  However, as everyone who knows my persistence story will tell you, I was more than a risk.  I guess my story just goes to show that not all predictors of success are real.  It isn’t a science.  Some people can’t succeed in college without even trying.  Some people, like myself, really had to work at it.



MOOC Hysteria

I found this interesting remake of a classic Beatles song when googling pictures of MOOCs.  I thought I needed to share it with you.


“Mooc, Mooc, Mooc, Mooc, Mooc, Mooc, Mooc, Mooc, Mooc.
There’s nothing you can teach that can’t be scaled.
Nothing you can grade that can’t be AI’d.
Nothing you can tweet but you can learn how to play the game
It’s easy.

There’s nothing you can say that can’t be video’ed.
No one you can show that can’t be animated.
Nothing you can do but you can copy how to be you
in time – It’s easy.

All you need is Mooc, all you need is Mooc,
All you need is Mooc, Mooc, Mooc is all you need.
Mooc, Mooc, Mooc, Mooc, Mooc, Mooc, Mooc, Mooc, Mooc.
All you need is Mooc, all you need is Mooc,
All you need is Mooc, Mooc, Mooc is all you need.”

Is there validity to this?

Read more at:

MOOC? What’s a MOOC?!

Reading about MOOCs in the Chronicle was helpful but this isn’t the place where I really came to understand the concept of a MOOC.  That came from a woman on Ball State’s campus named Christy Blanch.  Christy is a doctoral student who really loves comic books!  She will be teaching a MOOC within the coming months, if she isn’t already. 

MOOCs are massive open online courses.  Basically, anyone from anywhere in the world can sign up for a MOOC, for free.  The idea is to offer a truly expansive education because students will be interacting with others from all over the world.  Not only does the course intend to teach its subject matter but also diversity, and how to work well with others.  All of which are skills a learner can take to the bank.

While online education is not known for being the most effective learning tool, MOOCs are hoping to turn the tables around.  Since they are so new, it will take a few years to determine their effectiveness.  I hope that this new, open access educational tool lives up to the hype.