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Carroll U Predicts Attrition with Student Retention System

After a year of use Carroll University in Waukesha, WI is seeing success with its implementation of Jenzabar's Retention Management Solution (RMS), a combination of software and professional services that allows institutions of higher education to target at-risk students and increase retention rates. The university's goal in using Jenzabar RMS was to incorporate a process to better profile at-risk students and implement a retention structure to improve the success of students. The new program has enabled the institution to determine factors that help predict student attrition, identify at-risk students, and develop effective intervention strategies by leveraging data from its student information system.

"Jenzabar's retention management technology helps Carroll identify students who are most at-risk of leaving, allowing our staff to proactively intervene before it's too late," said Jim Wiseman, vice president of enrollment. "The system benefits the university greatly since the ultimate goal is to get students to graduation. At the end of the school year the freshman-to-sophomore retention we're seeing has exceeded all of our expectations."

Jenzabar RMS uses a mathematical model derived from historical retention data and applies it to current freshman data to predict the persistence of an individual student. A dashboard enables Carroll's director of student success to identify the factors that are triggering an at-risk status and use this information to develop a personalized retention plan for each student. This system allows the university to track changes in student attrition, gather reports from a Web-based alert system available campus-wide, and customize strategies for each student at risk.

The challenges of student retention are surfacing on many institutions' strategic plans. According to a recent survey, the percentage of college freshmen in the United States who return to the same college for their second year of school is declining. A total of 66 percent of first-year college students returned to the same institution for their second year of college in the 2007--2008 academic year, the lowest percentage since 1989.

The survey, conducted by the not-for-profit organization ACT and including responses from 2,500 colleges and universities across the country, also showed that in spite of the attention paid to college student retention, just 47 percent of campuses have established an improvement goal for retention of students from the first to second year. Only 33 percent of campuses have established a goal for improved degree completion.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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