The retention rates at Butler University have been consistent over the years, but the university is looking to bring them closer to 100 percent.
Right now, Butler’s average retention from first to second year is 88 percent.
“If you don’t retain students there, they won’t be there for their junior year,” Associate Provost Mary Macmanus Ramsbottom said.
Ramsbottom said the university is losing people in the middle, so academic student affairs, admissions and student affairs are looking more closely at the year in between to find out why these students are leaving.
Student affairs and academic student affairs are now reaching out to first-generation college students who may not have the same sense of communication with their parents about values toward college.
They have planned events throughout the school year to get these students involved at the university and to create connections with faculty and other students that will help make the students feel comfortable.
Ramsbottom said if a connection is made with these students, they are more likely to end up staying all four to six years at the university.
Tom Weede, vice president for enrollment management, pointed out a few reasons why students would leave: wanting to be closer to family, a boyfriend or girlfriend; financial aid; or to seek certain programs or majors.
“People failing out is not a huge issue,” he said. “People here have the potential to be successful.”
The Learning Resource Center and student affairs meet with students who leave and have them take a survey about why they leave.
This helps the university study why students choose to depart and what the school can do to keep more students at Butler.
“If there is a solvable problem, we try to do that,” said Weede.
From what the surveys have shown, academics are not usually an issue.
Ramsbottom said the school studies what helps students adapt to the environment of the school and what helps students stay here longer.
A sense of belonging, a connection with faculty and other students, and one-on-one advising are a few factors that help students become comfortable at Butler.
However, some students don’t make these connections or get that sense of belonging, so they decide to leave the university. There are a few impacts that this has on the university.
“It actually costs less to keep a student than it does finding a student to replace them,” said Weede. “The university loses money and people lose friends when a student leaves.”
When students do leave, living arrangements change in the residence halls.
Jeff Tyner, Residence Life Coordinator for Residential College, said that the remaining roommate is the key concern because they have to go through the whole process of learning about a new roommate again.
The RAs keep an eye on the incoming students to make sure they settle in and become comfortable in their new living environment.
On average, about 15 to 25 students come in and leave ResCo between semesters.
While that number could be lower, Ramsbottom said the current rates show students are fairly satisfied.
“The retention rates are good, so that is a good indicator of [student] satisfaction and finding the right fit,” she said.