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Student Retention and Graduation-YES WE CAN! By Tamara Williams

Recently, OCC collaborated with Noel-Levitz, a nationally recognized higher education consulting firm focused on helping institutions of higher education advance student success. Over the next year, the firm will assist us with creating strategies to make informed decision with regard to student success. Additionally, this partnership will provide the college with the necessary tools to develop a comprehensive, sustainable, retention program in addition to creating long-term strategic enrollment plan. This collaboration will assist OCC with increasing student retention and graduation rates.

This project is a campus community initiative that requires the participation from students, faculty, staff, administrators, and the local community. Please provide feedback on ways that you would like to become directly involved with this exciting initiative.

9 Responses to “Student Retention and Graduation-YES WE CAN! By Tamara Williams”

  1. Rose Kuceyeski Says:

    One of my 8-week classes, Beginning Keyboarding, was selected for this survey so I did distribute it to my students. However, most of these students are 1st semester students in a course they were in for three weeks. I wonder about the reliabiltiy of the data. While I realize there is a N/A column, many of the questions seem like they need to be answered by students who have at least completed a semester of college. Just curious about this.

  2. Tamara Williams Says:

    Thank you for your feedback. You bring up an excellent point. Across sections, it is likely that some students surveyed will be new; however, given that we administered the survey in the spring, it will probably be a very small percentage. Although these students have limited experience with Owens, it is important to capture their perception in order to have a representative view of the entire student body. This methodology would also be consistent with that used by other institutions to which our data will be compared.


  3. Thomas Deckelman Says:

    Has Owens defined what retention is? First to second year? Semester to semester? Which student will be included in our retention figures since so many are not pursuing an associate degree?

  4. Anne Fulkerson Says:

    Tom asks a good question. There are actually numerous operational definitions of retention, and the one that we apply depends upon on the specific question that we are asking. For instance, the federal (IPEDS) definition is the percentage of first-time degree/certificate-seeking students enrolled for credit on the 14th day of their fall entry term who either re-enroll (in at least one for-credit class) or successfully complete their program by the 14th day of the following fall. This rate is given separately for students who were enrolled full-time or part-time during their fall entry term. The Ohio Board of Regents uses a similar definition to IPEDS, but differs with regard to the census point at which enrollment is measured and the inclusion of certificate-seeking students. Students who report on their application that they are not intending to seek a certificate or degree are not included in either definition. Of course, this is self-reported information and students may not respond accurately, but there really is no other way to capture academic intention.

    Given the large number of certificate-seeking students we have and various parts of term, internally we find it useful to use a blended definition of retention that includes both degree and certificate-seeking students and counts all enrollments that may occur throughout the term. We track fall-to-fall rates (as is the industry standard), but also monitor fall-to-spring rates as an important performance indicator. A report by various student characteristics for each campus (which is currently being updated) can be found on the Institutional Research website at:

    At this point, Noel-Levitz will be helping us to track our retention progress using our internal definition of fall-to-fall and fall-to-spring rates. They will also be monitoring our receipt of Ohio Board of Regents defined Success Points, upon which an increasing proportion of State Share of Instruction will now be based: Although Success Point metrics are not direct measures of retention as defined above, they require some level of continued enrollment for their attainment.

    Anyone with additional questions or suggestions on how the College should set and monitor retention goals is encouraged to attend one of the open Noel-Levitz focus groups scheduled for Wednesday February 23 at 9:00 a.m. in EC 111 on the Findlay Campus and Friday February 25 at 8:00 a.m. in AVCC 125 on the Toledo Campus.

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