student success

How 3 campuses incrementally reached student retention rates of 80 to 90 percent

Janene Panfil

Senior Vice President for Retention Solutions

September 7, 2017

The fall term has now begun—is your institution doing anything differently this year to increase your student retention rates and help more students succeed? As classes begin, take a minute to compare the effectiveness of your existing student success programs and services with those of other institutions. While there is comfort and success in “the way we’ve always done it,” there may also be room to grow and become even one percent better.

Three award-winning programs for college student success

Three institutions from across the country received Lee Noel and Randi Levitz Retention Excellence Awards at the 2017 National Conference on Student Recruitment, Marketing, and Retention, convened by Ruffalo Noel Levitz from July 26-28 in Denver, Colorado. These winning programs were all unique and tailored by student type, institution type, and available resources, and all of these programs pulled together data from multiple sources to anticipate students’ needs.

  • University of South Florida (Tampa, Florida): The university has a Student Success Case Management program to identify and serve at-risk students. This individualized and data-informed approach has helped USF raise student retention rates to 90 percent for the 2015 cohort and is on track to surpass the 70 percent six-year graduation rate later in 2017, which will unlock up to $15 million in performance-based funding. The individualization of the Student Success Case Management program is considered core to achieving this goal and broke a three-year performance plateau.
  • Walsh University (North Canton, Ohio): Walsh University employs a campuswide, student-centered program to connect students to key academic resources and social supports to ensure student success. The holistic, intentional approach relies on a collaborative culture across campus and has resulted in an overall student retention rate of 83 percent.
  • Southeast Technical Institute (Sioux Falls, South Dakota): Southeast Technical has developed a retention process called Cares to capture data about student needs and meet those needs directly via empowered employees or referral to specific retention programs. Outcomes include 84 percent persistence for the new student Seminar Course, 92 percent persistence for students meeting the Attendance Challenge, and 96 percent persistence for the JumpStart program.

What do these campuses have in common? They are all using student-specific, data-driven, individualized interventions and are empowering every department to engage with students and intervene personally, which includes a meaningful, one-on-one relationship with each student. These recognized programs demonstrate that colleges and universities can truly have an impact on the success of their students and serve as national models for others to use and build upon. Dr. Lee Noel captured this concept many years ago when he advised “give the student what they need, before they know they need it.” With the help of data and technology, the relationships at the core of these winning programs are informing the work caring individuals do to anticipate students’ needs and solve student success challenges.

Learn how these campuses raised their student retention rates during a free webinar

Register for a free webinar on September 27, 2017, to learn how these three institutions launched, nurtured, and grew their initiatives into effective retention programs.

Also, check out the Compendium of Retention Excellence Award Winners 1989-2017 (PDF), which summarizes each winner’s strategies and outcomes, and is indexed by institution type.

Best wishes for a successful 2017-18 academic year!

Learn how three institutions raised their student retention rates


About the Author

Janene Panfil serves Ruffalo Noel Levitz as senior vice president for retention solutions, offering more than 25 years of hands-on leadership and experience in student retention and assessment. She provides vision and direction for the...

Read more about Janene's experience and expertise

Reach Janene by e-mail at Janene.Panfil@RuffaloNL.com.


Read More In:
Student Success