PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. -- Obtaining an undergraduate degree opens up incredible opportunities for many young professionals. However, not all students who begin college complete their course of study; in fact, loneliness, debt and mental health issues are some of the most common reasons why students drop out of school before receiving their degree.
To combat this trend, Pace University welcomed educators from public and private colleges across the Northeast to a one-of-a-kind conference designed to examine the issue of student retention.
“It is our responsibility to make available to our students all possible resources that will support them in their university life, graduating with a college degree and tools to succeed post-graduation," said Uday Sukhatme, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at Pace.
Entitled “Going the Extra Mile: Data-Driven, Student-Focused Retention Strategies that Work," the conference was held on Pace Univeristy's Pleasantville campus and drew representatives from colleges from Pennsylvania to Rhode Island. "By bringing together public and private colleges across the Northeast to share best practices, we hope we've provided educational leaders with new insights into how to make retention happen,’’ said Sukhatme.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 59 percent of students who began seeking a bachelor's degree at a four-year institution in Fall 2009 completed that degree within six years. Between 2010 and 2015 this rate increased by only 1 percentage point. For colleges and universities, retention has become a serious issue.
To combat this alarming trend, participants from a variety institutions discussed the tools they've used to helped boost retention and improve on-campus student life. Among the topics discussed were an examination of mental health services, substance abuse support and the development of financial incentives to keep students in school.
“Since today’s incoming college students have more choices and challenges than ever when it comes to defining their college experience, dropping out or transferring has become commonplace,’’ said Susan Maxam, assistant vice president for student success at Pace. “As a result, higher education institutions across the nation are finding it increasingly necessary to prioritize student retention efforts and seek strategies that serve students more effectively.”