Spring Retention Checklist

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John W. Dysart
The Dysart Group, Inc.

The academic year is coming to a close and the time is right to think about retention. One of the important pieces in the complex retention puzzle is recognizing things that may be indicators of attrition. Now is the perfect time to take a look at some trends and consider corrective action.

  • Check with the Registrar?s Office and obtain the names of currently enrolled students who have requested that academic transcripts be sent to other institutions. This is a clear sign that a student is thinking about attending another school.Contact these students directly to determine if intervention is appropriate.
  • Get a list from the Financial Aid Office of currently enrolled students who have not reapplied for financial aid. The reapplication process is so much easier now that not reapplying may be an indication that students are considering transfer options.
  • Meet with your Athletic Director and identify student athletes who may be subject to losing their scholarships. Are there students who might be cut from the team? Are there athletes disappointed in playing time? Identifying such students prior to the end of the semester might present opportunities for positive intervention.
  • Work with your chief academic officer and faculty to identify students at academic risk. Hopefully, you have already established some type of early warning system. If you have not created such a system, do it now. If you have such a system, the time is right to touch base with those students experiencing academic difficulties.
  • Ask your Chief Finance Officer to run a list of students with outstanding balances. Do not wait until the end of the term to address these balances. Print a list in descending order with the highest outstanding balances listed first. A representative from the Business Office should review the list with a representative from the Financial Aid Office to see if there are ways to eliminate or significantly reduce the balances before the end of the semester. Possibilities to consider include payment plans, additional need-based aid, unsubsidized Federal Stafford loans, PLUS loans, alternative loans and even waivers. It is important to be proactive. Contact the students and the parents directly to work out as many of the balances as possible.
  • Meet with your Director of Financial Aid to see if there are any currently enrolled students who have yet to apply for financial aid. Tracking receipt of financial aid applications is important. It is not too late to apply for aid if students have not already done so.
  • Find out from your Director of Financial Aid if you have any students who have been awarded financial aid but disbursement is being held for any reason. There is still time to collect outstanding, required documents. At this point in the cycle, it is too late to rely on the students and parents alone to complete folders, master promissory notes or any other paperwork. The Financial Aid Office must work proactively to clear the paperwork before the end of the term.
  • Housing can be another clue to attrition. If you require a deposit for housing each year, make sure you contact any students currently residing on campus who have not submitted deposits for next year. If you utilize some type of lottery system to determine housing assignments, identify any students who did not participate in the lottery this year. You may find that most of these students plan to return, but have decided to live off-campus. It is likely, however, that you will find a few students who have not paid deposits or have not participated in the lottery because they are seeking to transfer.
  • Participation in pre-registration and course selection for next year is another strong indicator for retention. It is wise to look for currently enrolled students who have not completed pre-registration or picked their courses for next year. In addition, if you have a ?hold? process for registration, contact any students unable to register due to various ?holds? and work with them to clear the holds before the end of the term.

Recognizing the warning signs is an important piece in the puzzle. Act now to improve your retention rate before the end of the semester.

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