Rockhurst University (Missouri)

Rockhurst University (Missouri)

Increasing retention with outreach and intervention to moderate-risk students

Historically, Rockhurst has achieved a respectable first- to second-year retention rate, continuously exceeding the national average among like institutions. In addition to strong retention rates, Rockhurst's freshman cohort has grown to significant, record levels in the past two years. Larger incoming classes have posed significant retention goal and strategy challenges as limited physical and human resources accelerated pressure to maintain this momentum with a modest goal to increase first- to second-year retention to 85 percent.

While a steady increase in average ACT has positively contributed to retention, a more sophisticated set of tools and strategies was necessary for the university to make an impact on the first- to second-year retention rate that had plateaued at 82-83 percent. To propel the university's stagnant retention rate, Rockhurst implemented the Student Retention Predictor™ to identify the statistical likelihood of persistence for each incoming student and the enrollment factors that put them at risk.

The university committed to providing outreach to all students who fell below the model's median with extra attention paid to students in the precarious middle ground who are more likely to be influenced by intervention strategies.

Challenged by the tasks necessary to connect with larger numbers of students, the retention committee also sought creative solutions to employ other members of the campus community. With a large residential population, the student affairs subcommittee engaged resident assistant (RA) staff to identify residents who would most benefit from outreach provided by a professional staff member.

As a result of this initiative, intentional outreach and intervention efforts provided resources to students early in the semester before problems developed and empowered RA staff to play an important role in student retention. This structured system for connecting with their residents allowed the RA staff to build healthy mentorship connections with their residents that may not otherwise have been developed.

Notable achievements

  • Exceeded the established goal of 85 percent with nearly an 86 percent first- to second-year retention rate following the first year of implementation
  • Increased first- to second-year retention to 87.5 percent in the second year
  • Projected to surpass the previous 87.5 percent retention rate in fall 2014 (currently trending at 90 percent)
  • Expected to increase the four-year graduation rate as a result of improvements in first- to second-year retention over the past three years


"The Student Retention Predictor has made me a believer in using data, because it's been so easy! It all just started to click and inform the work we were doing. Instead of doing what we thought was right, we're doing what we know is right.

"The predictive model is such a small investment and has made such a huge impact on our bottom line. Depending on your net revenue per student, if you save one student, you’ve paid for the cost of it."

Sandy Waddell
Assistant Dean of Students

Case study used with the permission of Rockhurst University.


Free phone consultation on student retention strategies

How can you increase student retention and completion on your campus? Ask for a free phone consultation with an experienced Ruffalo Noel Levitz retention consultant. You can discuss your current challenges and what steps you can take to start increasing student persistence. Call 1-800-876-1117 or contact us by email.

©1998-2018 Ruffalo Noel Levitz, LLC. All Rights Reserved.