Wright State creates program to combat low retention numbers

Local News

FAIRBORN, Ohio (WDTN) – As colleges across the nation deal with the evolving challenges of modern education, Wright State University has launched a new initiative aimed at increasing the retention rates of students. 

The Undergraduate Student Retention initiative combines the efforts of multiple departments from around the school including Student Success, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, Office of Undergraduate Retention, and more.

The program seeks to address numerous challenges that students face as they continue through their program. The most frequent reasons for dropping out include not being prepared for the rigors of academic work, inability to reach an education-life balance, family issues, and financial circumstances. 

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average retention rate for comparable universities is 81%. 

Wright State’s retention rate for full-time students is currently 64%

“Retention” focuses on first-year, full-time students year-to-year; if students were enrolled in the previous semester have enrolled in the following semester as well. 

Officials said the low retention rate at Wright State can be attributed to numerous factors. Wright State is designed to appeal to local students, lower income, adult students, and a wider student body than larger state universities such as Ohio State University. 

Students with these backgrounds can often be the most vulnerable to fall prey to the struggles of student life. Many work full-time jobs, raise children, and have other obligations other than school.  

Other students often struggle after they have changed their major either too late or too often. Students may progress in one field and after several semesters not be able to stay or lose interest or lack the ability. These students often change majors but are unable to reset their financial aid, leaving them not enough aid to finish their degree.

Officials said the program was designed to address a wide-array of problems, which is why it was necessary to include a variety of departments from around campus. 

These resources can include connecting them with fellow students if they have been struggling socially, creating financial safety nets for students with financial concerns, and other concerns.

“We need to do better,” said Dr. Seth Gordon, director of the new program. “This is a way to [show] how we are going to do better.”

Dr. Gordon said similar programs existed at many of the major universities such as Ohio State University and the University of Dayton and that tackling the issue has been a key focus moving forward. 

“You look at those schools and they have these offices,” said Gordon. “We’re doing that now and I think it will have a big impact.” 

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