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Recruitment & Retention

U North Carolina at Charlotte Program Targets Transfer Student Retention

Transfer students don't always get the unique attention they need to succeed at their new institutions. They often feel isolated, display a false sense of security, and consider themselves expert at the higher ed system, and therefore they often skip orientation programs that could help during the adjustment period, according to a 2004 study by Jeanine Ward-Roof and Tony Cawthon that appeared in The College Transfer Student in America: The Forgotten Student. As a result, the researchers report, transfer students frequently experience problems with registration, new student programs, academic advising, financial aid, housing, and career services.

To address these challenges, the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte is experimenting with a program from EducationDynamics specifically to increase retention of its transfer students. The university will be using the company's Undergraduate Retention Program, a Web-based application intended to engage students in an online orientation. According to a statement, the institution noted that a significant percentage of transfer students are unable or unwilling to attend on-campus orientation.

  • The EducationDynamics Retention Program is a student portal with social networking functions. Features include:
  • Automated e-mail messages to direct students to relevant content on the portal;
  • Web-based articles, self-assessment tests, surveys, and videos to encourage students to use resources that can help them succeed in school; and
  • Data tracking and assessment to alert administrators about students who may not be engaging in campus activities or are having difficulty adjusting.

What's unique about the program, according to the company, is its integration of a student portal with a social network designed to drive behaviors of users. "We are partnering with UNC Charlotte to develop awareness among students, survey and assessment tools, blogs, e-messaging, and other online campaigns that deliver the orientation experience within a dynamic environment," explained Peter Tomassi, vice president of product development for the Enrollment and Retention Services Division of EducationDynamics.

"With an aggressive enrollment plan which includes a large number of transfer students, we saw the need to deliver orientation in way that better meets the needs of today's fast moving and often over-scheduled students. EducationDynamics' Retention Program is our technology vehicle to deliver this interactive experience," said Dennis Wiese, associate dean of students and director for the Office of New Student & Family Services at the university.

Other institutional users of the vendor's retention services software include New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark; Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA; and Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio.

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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