This month, I am happy to highlight the Special Events Center and how they have been tracking retention and graduation rates of their student leaders. Student retention is the focus of many current initiatives, both curricular and co-curricular, with the goal of helping students reach the milestone of graduation. All departments and offices in Student Affairs have the potential to positively contribute to student retention. Although we cannot definitively say that our excellent programs and services cause students to be successful, we can track and compare the success rates of the students we impact to reinforce the work we do.
Charlin Jones, Assistant Director for Special Events, has been partnering with the Office of Institutional Research (OIR) for several years to gather data about Student Ambassadors and Honor Society members to see if their retention and graduation rates are higher than students not in those organizations. For example, first-time, first-year students who entered in the fall of 2006 graduated in four years at a rate of 8.6%, while the fall 2006 cohort of these student leaders graduated in four years at a rate of 28.4%.
The Office of Student Activities is looking at graduation and retention rates for other student groups such as Student Government, Fraternities and Sororities. Research indicates that student engagement is linked to retention, so it will be helpful to show how these highly involved students are succeeding. Moreover, it will allow us to show whether our efforts have a positive relationship with graduation rates at UTSA.
Thanks to the work of these two offices in thinking about student retention, as well as the ongoing partnership with OIR, we now have a report template that can be utilized by any department in Student Affairs! Some potential examples of groups of students that could be included are:
If you would like to utilize this report for groups or cohorts of identified students, please email me. Moving forward, we will be consolidating requests for the division each spring to collect data about these identified groups all at once.
With initiatives like the Graduation Rate Improvement Plan (GRIP), we will continue to be asked to show our impact, both programmatically and collectively, on student success. We hope that this report template is a tool that will assist us in knowing how students involved in Student Affairs programs and services are succeeding. Thank you, again, to Charlin Jones for sharing this useful information to help us all move forward in this journey promoting student leadership, learning, and development leading to student success!
See you next month!