Butler conducts review to hear from first-year and transfer students

Butler works with the Gardner Institute to survey first-years on their transition to college. Photo courtesy of seekvectorlogo.com. 

GRACE WORCESTER | STAFF REPORTER | gworcester@butler.edu 

Butler University is working with the Gardner Institute through the Foundation of Excellence to conduct a review of the first-year experience at Butler. The review will incorporate information from yearly surveys which are sent to the first-year class. 

Surveys taken at the beginning of each year will be compared throughout each class’s time at Butler. 

The Gardner Institute is a non-profit that specializes in student transitions to college and has worked with over 300 universities through its Foundation of Excellence program.

Vice President of Student Affairs, Frank Ross, Vice President for Enrollment Management Lori Greene and Interim Provost of Academic Affairs Brooke Barnett are heading the review process. 

Interim Provost Brooke Barnett said this review is being used to help create overall student success from the students’ first-year at Butler and beyond.

“The goal is to create a comprehensive university-wide student persistence and retention plan,” Barnett said. “We look at what the multiple different factors are that ensure students can be retained at the university, [to] be successful and graduate.” 

In order to get feedback, a survey was sent out to Butler first-year and transfer students on Nov. 1 in an email with topics pertaining to a holistic review of their experiences. The survey asks questions about the transition process from residence life to advising appointments and feeling familiar with campus. The survey must be completed by Nov. 19.

Barnett said student perceptions of campus and their experience is important, and that everyone has a different experience when coming to college, which is the reason for the importance of the survey. Barnett also said the university is looking in depth into the feedback from first generation college students and commuters since the number is greater than in years past.

Professor of strategic communication, Rose Campbell, is serving as the co-liaison for the initiative with the Gardner Institution. 

“There are nine teams within this initiative and it involves a group of 90 people,” Campbell said. “Some of the initiatives being philosophy, organization, learning dimensions, faculty and training, diversity dimension, purpose and improvement. This is a multidisciplinary project and we are hopeful for student success and persistence.” 

Campbell said this initiative is designed to benefit the whole population of first-year and transfer students, and she hopes that it will foster student success throughout their time at Butler. She also mentioned that the survey would help to get feedback from those who do not feel as closely connected to campus, such as commuters, first generation students and students from diverse backgrounds.  

Campbell said this survey will allow for a proactive evaluation of the experience of this first-year class. She considers this especially important because of the changes that this first-year class is bringing to campus in terms of diversity

There are a few days left for the first-year experience surveys to be filled out and there has been a 32% response rate so far. 

First-year exploratory natural science major, Elizabeth Hein, filled out the survey

“I think the surveys are important because they provide valuable information when people fill them out honestly and intentionally,” Hein said. “At first college was difficult, but I eventually got into a routine and was able to adjust. Some information about advising could have been clearer.” 

Hein said she thinks the survey is important and can help Butler gain a better understanding of where the success and problem areas are for the university. 

Once the survey ends, next week results will be collected by Butler administration and used to evaluate the overall transition and resources used on Butler’s campus to increase and sustain retention within the university. 

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