EMU to combat poor retention rates

Eastern Michigan University is in the process of implementing four initiatives to improve student retention rates.

With the current graduation rate at 39 percent, EMU is taking a new approach to get students to graduate from the institution.

Lynette Findley, assistant vice-president of retention and student success, said the EMU community can expect a variety of things to increase the retention rate.

The first initiative will create seminars for freshmen.

“What we’re doing is looking at creating first year seminars and there are a variety of programs we’re trying to give,”Findley said.

Findley said EMU’s housing is also going to be involved with improving retention rates by creating several “living learning communities.”

“They’re deciding on the exact model they want to implement,” Findley said. “It could be for students that have not declared a major, so they’re living together on the same floor.”

Findley said students would also be exposed to career exploration workshops and different academic programs to help them figure out what field they want to go into.

The second initiative will create a comprehensive early warning system that would provide students with timely feedback.

“Perhaps we could intervene and give them the appropriate support, including workshops and tutors, that they will need before it gets too far into the semester where there is no point of return,” Findley said.

The third initiative involves generating a comprehensive guide for all instructors working with first-year students.

“The purpose of the guide is that a lot of instructors are really not aware of the different support services that are available for first-year students,” Findley said. “They are not aware of a lot of their EMU policies and procedures.”

Integrated academic probation, changes to financial aid probation and repeat courses are all apart of the fourth initiative.

“We really need to look at the probation policy,” Findley said. “Do we allow students to get to probation three? Are we doing what’s right and what’s best for the students? With this, we can stop the bleed and start increasing the retention rates.”

Findley said EMU is starting to see improvements already.

“From this fall semester, we will see a decrease in the number of first-time freshmen students ending their first semester on probation,” Findley said.
Improvements have not only been made in retention rates, but also in enrollment. From winter 2009 to winter 2010, undergraduate enrollment has
increased 4.69 percent and graduate enrollment 6.05 percent.

Findley attributes this to EMU being more affordable compared to other universities. Another factor is that EMU is a school of opportunity, but Findley believes continued support is necessary for more strives to be made.

“In giving them the opportunity, we have to give them the necessary tools to succeed,” she said.

Asaundra Gentry, a business and entrepreneurship major, believes the initiatives are a good idea.

“I wish these options were around when I was a freshman,” Gentry said. “It’s always great to have help and support from mentors and teachers. These initiatives sound like they could really help students that may be struggling get the necessary help they need.”

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