University works to better lackluster retention rate

Among many of the important improvements currently on campus, one has been long under debate by many campus officials, who have yet to find a way to solve the issue. Retention and graduation rates on the University of Puget Sound campus are lower than most similar schools by about five to seven percent, according to Dean of Students Mike Segawa. Schools like Reed and Whitman have larger amounts of students completing four years and graduating from the school at which they began their higher education. More than the average numbers of Loggers on campus either do not have the credits or grades to graduate or they drop out of school for various reasons.

“Our campus is about five to seven percent behind on our graduation and retention rates than other similar universities. One of our institutional goals is to improve this rate over the next five to six years,”  Dean of Students Mike Segawaexplained.

To improve this rate in the coming years, Segawa, the President of the University, Ronald Thomas and many other staff and faculty members have been implementing specific initiatives with the belief that they will help improve the academic success and eventually the graduation rates overall among students.

Segawa has been diligently brainstorming with many others, including President Thomas, to somehow combat this problem of retention.

“Moving that needle up, what it will do is strengthen the sense of academic and scholarly inquiry here. There isn’t a reason why we shouldn’t have a rate that isn’t a few points higher,” Segawa explained.

There have been many different proposals initiated to improve retention levels on campus that Segawa has helped promote. Segawa says that among these is the new campus residence requirement.

“The construction of the new residence hall equals more beds for more students,” Segawa stated. Segawa says that statistically, “there is a difference of overall GPA for students who live on campus and for those who don’t.”

Requiring students to live on campus for their first two years would possibly keep students’ overall GPAs higher so that they have more of a chance of completing courses and eventually graduating from the University.

Segawa also said that there have been some new initiatives reinforced or added in hopes of recovering our retention rates.

“We’ve actually changed some policies. We’ve added peer advisors. We’ve maintained a smaller first-year class institutionally. The smaller the class, the better the retention,” Segawa said.

Segawa also talked of a new “Student Alert Group” that has been added to campus. This group, Segawa explained, is made up of a group of staff members who meet together every week. “This group comes together to discuss any students that they feel might be struggling socially or academically. Any student who gets a combination of two U’s and F’s at midterms are flagged by this group for an individual follow-up,” Segawa said.

This group has been implemented in hopes to catch struggling students at the beginning, and to help encourage these students to continue trying their best to succeed academically in order to eventually graduate. Segawa stressed that individual conversations or meetings with students, whether it is on an academic level or not, can greatly impact how a student sees their time and success at the University.

Many of these cases where students leave the University for any reason could depend on a number of factors. A simple conversation with a valued professor or a fellow student could make or break a student’s decision to stay or leave campus.

“All of this could depend on the right conversation at the right time. In that respect, retention work is everyone’s work. Every faculty member, every staff member, every student. It’s everyone’s work,” Segawa stressed.