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Different perspectives… May 5, 2010

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Joanne Robertson, the Assistant Director of Admissions at Quinnipiac, sees many sides of the retention story.  She has two children who attend Quinnipiac and also interacts with each student who transfers into QU from another college or university.

She believes that choosing a major plays a huge part in deciding whether to transfer in or out of any school.

“Although we have a lot of very strong programs sometimes there’s a major that they all the sudden become passionate about that we don’t offer enough variety or enough coursework and they need to leave,” she said.

She cites the Criminal Justice program as an example of the differences in academic programs within QU.

“We offer a Criminal Justice major, but I certainly would not say to a student come to Quinnipiac for Criminal Justice. Come to Quinnipiac for Health Sciences, communications, business, or the MAT program,” she said.  Every school has its strengths and not every school can answer everyone’s requirements for a major.”

Sophomore Samantha Secor came to Quinnipiac because she liked the campus but didn’t know exactly what she wanted to study. Now that she knows what she wants to do she wants to challenge herself by going to Boston University.

Most prestigious schools actually have higher acceptance rates for transfer admissions than freshmen admissions.  This means, Secor might not have been accepted to BU as an incoming freshman but after declaring her major and doing well at Quinnipiac she can now transfer in.

“I am really impressed with their academic reputation,” she said. “Now that I’ve chosen a major I’m ready to move on.”

These are the schools with the top 10 highest acceptance rates for transfers of the US News Top 50 Colleges and Universities.

Senior Andy Lumnah almost transferred because he also felt he wasn’t getting what he wanted academically. He was torn between what Quinnipiac was offering for his minor and wasn’t offering for his major.

He is a Media Production major and wants to do production for a news station.  “I noticed that the production classes here were aiming more towards film and going into Hollywood and directing and that’s not necessarily what I wanted to do,” he said. He looked into Emerson College because of their strong news production reputation.

However, Emerson doesn’t offer a language program.  Completing a Spanish minor was too important to Lumnah to leave QU.

Sophomore Tom Corino was happy with the film training he’s experienced at QU, but wants to transfer for social reasons. Corino has a passion for music and feels he doesn’t really fit into the social scene at Quinnipiac.  He wants to go to Emerson or SUNY Purchase which have reputations for being “artsy schools.”

Here is more of what Robertson, Secor, Lumnah, and Corino had to say.

Robertson feels that although some students transfer out of QU because of the academic programs or the social scene, those are the very same reasons some students transfer into QU.

Matt Hudak and Lindsay Kazin are two heavily involved Quinnipiac students.  They feel they fit perfectly into the community and are taking advantage of all that QU has to offer. Here are their stories:


Check this out… April 21, 2010

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Quinnipiac’s online independent student newspaper The Quad News wrote an article about this blog and QU’s efforts to improve the retention rate!

Quinnipiac Plans for Retention Rate Rise

Survey says… April 14, 2010

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A recent survey of 100 Quinnipiac students found that 57 percent had thought about transferring at some point in their college experience.  Many think this is due to the high cost of a college education, especially at a private institution such as Quinnipiac University.  According to Maureen Tillman of the New York Times, “parents are viewing the cost of college with a stronger lens and are becoming more assertive by telling their children that unless they take their academic experience seriously, they will not continue to pay the high costs of going away to college as opposed to commuting from home.”  In her article, Tillman quoted Mara Model, a former Quinnipiac student, who said she transferred to Temple University because she felt the QU campus was too small and isolated.

Also in the survey, students were asked “why do you think most students leave Quinnipiac?”  40 percent said financial reasons, 38 percent said dissatisfied with the social scene or didn’t fit in, 17 percent said dissatisfied with housing and/or university rules and regulations, 3 percent said academics weren’t challenging enough, and one percent choose either academics are too challenging or a family or medical situation respectively.  Allen Grove, in his article “5 Bad Reasons to Transfer,” said that challenging academics is the second highest reason people transfer – which is the opposite of what the survey at Quinnipiac showed.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that 17 percent were dissatisfied with housing because QU is going through such dramatic housing changes for this upcoming year.  Nathalie Weinstein of the Daily Journal of Commerce wrote that “students that live on campus during their first year come back at a higher rate than students who live off campus” which is a piece of the puzzle for QUs new housing plan.

Here are the Survey Monkey results:

Withdrawal Form April 7, 2010

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Before a student leaves Quinnipiac, to drop out or transfer to another school, he or she must fill out an “Undergraduate Student Withdrawal and Exit Interview Form.” Here is the front of the form…

The form calls for signatures from the Dean of the school the student is in, the Financial Aid office, the Bursar’s Office, and the Office of Residential Life.  It also calls for an exit interview with the Dean of the school. Transferring student Mike Governa said, “It takes about 5 minutes to leave this University – 3 to fill out the form and 2 to talk to the Dean.”

The back of the form is a survey of reasons to understand why students leave…

Governa thinks some of the questions on the back are “stupid.” He said “Why do they ask because they’re not going to change it anyway.”  The retention committee is looking to make changes but they say a big problem is that not everybody fills out the withdrawal form.

Nicole D’Allesandro is a former Quinnipiac student who transferred to UMASS Boston.  She made her decision to transfer over  the summer so she wasn’t at school to pick up a form.  “They mailed it to me but I was already gone so I just didn’t do it,” she said.  She wanted to stay at Quinnipiac and was frustrated when she left.  She felt that no one helped her find a way to stay… so she didn’t feel obligated to do anything else for the school.

The QU Retention Committee… March 5, 2010

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In the fall of 2009, Quinnipiac’s Vice President Mark Thompson approached Andrew Delohery, head of the Learning Center, and asked him to form a committee to look into raising the retention rate at Quinnipiac.  For their purposes, “retention” refers to the number of students who stay at Quinnipiac from their first to their second year, said Delohery. Right now QU has a retention rate of about 86%, up from 84% in 2006, according to CollegeConfidential.com.  The main goal of the QU Retention Committee is to raise it to 90%.

“This would make Quinnipiac a highly selective university. Right now we are a selective school,” said Delohery.

The Learning Center sees about 3000 students a year for various tutoring and extra help sessions.  Senior and tutor Brian Walach says they see a lot of struggling students. He observes the academic reasons why some students drop out or transfer.  “You drop a class here, maybe two classes, and then you’re not a  full time student anymore and I feel like it’s downhill from there” he says.

Delohery and Walach agree that finances do play a role in retention but are only a piece of the puzzle.  About 70% of students at QU receive some form of financial aid, according to Quinnipiac’s Admissions page. “Maybe classes aren’t going so well or they aren’t fitting in as much as they’d like to and so they say ‘well I’m not getting my full money’s worth at this point’ and so maybe it’s too expensive for what they think they’re getting out of it.  I think finances play a role in that sense,” says Walach.

The retention committee is hoping to publish their findings before the end of the Spring 2010 semester.

Here is more of what Delohery and Walach had to say:

I left Quinnipiac because… February 24, 2010

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Here are the stories of 5 students who left Quinnipiac and transferred to other schools.

Mike’s Story… February 17, 2010

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Students transfer for a variety of reasons.  This is Mike’s story.

Looking at the numbers… February 10, 2010

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courtesy: The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems

Quinnipiac University is concerned with their own dropping retention rate, but Connecticut actually has a retention rate higher than the national average.  This map is very useful to educators and administrators who are looking at national and regional trends regarding four-year college retention.  The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, or IPEDS, collects data from colleges and universities across the country to analyze issues such as retention. IPEDS is sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics, a US government organization.

Based on the map, obviously Quinnipiac isn’t the only school with retention problems.  Sinclair Community College in Dayton, OH saw such low retention rates that they developed a program called RetentionZen to help the problem.  RetentionZen’s goal is to “improve student retention through early alert and caseload management.” The counselors and advisors at SCC hope to share their program with other schools in order to alleviate the problem. Check out the RetentionZen promotional video:

Financial issues… February 3, 2010

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Quinnipiac’s Department of Residential Life supports and educates students in hopes of keeping them safe and content while at school.  The idea is that if students are happy while living in the residence halls they will have an easier time managing academics and will continue attend school here. Jenn Crane is the Associate Director of Residential Education.  Part of her job is to oversee the programs taking place on campus – programs that are intended to keep students coming back for more.

But residential programs and education have no effect on whether a student drops out, if they are dropping out for financial reasons. Financial issues are a strong force driving students out of QU.  In a drowning economy, many students find themselves unable to afford the high tuition.  To be a full-time student and resident at Quinnipiac for one year costs almost $47,000.  Students can fill out a FAFSA form online to receive financial aid, but even that is not always enough to keep students at Quinnipiac.  70% of QU students receive some kind of financial aid, but the amount can range from $100 scholarships to $40,000+ scholarships.  Podcaster Christopher S. Penn of the Financial Aid Podcast discusses the retention of students and how financial aid administrators can help.

Financial Aid Podcast

This journalist… January 27, 2010

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This journalist is a Resident Assistant (or RA) at Quinnipiac University.  She is extremely invested in the Quinnipiac community and involved in several activities on campus.  As an RA and member of Residence Hall Council (or RHC) she truly cares about the well being of the Quinnipiac community and its students.  She is intrigued by the dropping retention rate and cannot wait to find out more.

John P. Bean of Answers.com lists six categories for reasons students leave school.  They include background variables, organizational factors, academic factors, social factors, environmental factors, and attitudes/intentions/ and psychological processes.

This journalist hopes to look into these categories and how they apply specifically at Quinnipiac.