It’s not too late to enhance your student success and retention efforts for Fall 2016

Mari Normyle

Assistant Vice President for Retention Solutions

June 9, 2016

Fall 2016 is drawing near, and many colleges and universities are now preparing to meet their newest students and planning summer orientation programs, but my question is: how well do you really know the incoming class? Often, the programming at orientation is a reflection of what the institution has learned about its incoming class through the admissions process—high school academic profiles, SAT/ACT scores, intended majors, instate/out-of-state status, athletic intentions, etc.  But these data only give institutions a limited perspective on what their entering students will need in order to be successful—and graduate—from their first college or university.

What’s missing? What’s missing is what I like to call “the rest of the story”: the easy-to-gather data and information on noncognitive, motivational variables that each individual student brings to college that directly influence the student’s likelihood of persisting—and graduating (or not)—from the institution. Think of it as the currents that operate below the surface of the ocean—pulling students toward staying or leaving.

Example: here’s a typical incoming student that everyone thinks they already know
To illustrate the missing information, I’d like you to consider the example of “Sarah” (her name has been changed, but she’s a student we will all recognize). Sarah is enrolling as a first-year student at an institution close to her home. She has a 3.4 high school GPA—which wouldn’t put her on anybody’s radar as “at risk” of finishing college. However, Sarah just completed the early-alert College Student Inventory (CSI) which measures her motivation and receptivity to assistance. What we learn from Sarah’s CSI results is quite revealing—in key areas, her academic motivation is quite low:

While her math and science confidence is strong (and Sarah plans to be a biology major so this is encouraging), her desire to finish college, study habits, sense of financial security, career closure and verbal/writing confidence are below the 40th percentile, suggesting that Sarah has some noteworthy concerns and may face significant challenges as she navigates her way through her first year of college.

Think about the power Sarah’s advisor now has with this additional information to take a more holistic approach to working with Sarah.  The opportunity to use the information from Sarah’s results to the CSI allows the advisor to move quickly to connect Sarah with resources that can help her increase her capacity for success. The advisor has new tools available to help Sarah—well beyond what was available with only information about her high school GPA and standardized test score.

Getting “Sarah” the resources she needs
Sarah herself has an awareness of where she will need assistance. Her top requests for assistance, also captured on her CSI assessment, indicate she wants help with three areas:

Again, having this information during the summer—or as early as possible  in the fall—allows advisors and other student advocates to connect Sarah with resources that respond to her priority requests. Not only will Sarah benefit from the help she’ll receive, she’s likely to have her decision to attend this particular institution positively reinforced because of the responsiveness of her advisor to her particular needs.

The advantages of using a proven, well-tested motivational assessment tool like the CSI are numerous and include:
– timely and meaningful individualized data for advisors to use immediately;
– aggregate data to shape programming in FY seminars and residence life experiences; and
– individualized and aggregate data to focus outreach efforts by student success teams.

And using the CSI is cost-effective and efficient. You don’t have to invest in software or system-wide technologies. The administration options are flexible (both online and paper versions are available). The cost is less than $8.00/student.

It’s not too late to add this powerful tool to your student success toolbox for your Fall 2016 entering class. To find out more, contact me for a free walkthrough…

Free walkthrough – in time for fall 2016
Call me at 800.876.1117 or contact me by email for a brief introduction to early-alert and intervention with the Fall 2016 entering class using the College Student Inventory. It’s not too late to prepare for Fall 2016 retention!  I hope to talk with you soon to discuss how to use proven noncognitive assessments that have identified the concerns of more than 2.6 million students at more than 1,400 colleges and universities.

About the Author

Dr. Mari K. Normyle, assistant vice president for retention solutions, works directly with colleges and universities throughout North America supporting student success and retention efforts through student motivation assessment and early alert programs. With more...

Read more about Mari's experience and expertise

Reach Mari by e-mail at Mari.Normyle@RuffaloNL.com.

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Enrollment, Student Success