Improving student retention is an important part of the first strategic direction in Western Carolina University’s “2020 Vision” strategic plan to “fulfill the educational needs of our state and region.”
The First-Year Student Retention Task Group was formed in September 2017 to produce a report that would include recommended strategic initiatives that will support first-year student retention and persistence. The strategic recommendations included in the report emerged from an analysis of WCU enrollment and retention data, a review of current programs and practices, and a review of institutional comparisons and best practices within North Carolina and nationally.
The overarching conclusion of the report is not that WCU needs to implement additional programs to support student retention, but that the university needs to focus its efforts in three primary areas: enhanced data collection and analysis to illuminate the myriad factors that influence students’ decisions to remain at WCU or to leave; improved strategic planning and assessment practices that will allow faculty and staff to pinpoint those programs and services that make the most impact; and increased communication across university departments to avoid duplication of services and to ensure an adequate allocation of resources to programs that have proven ability to move the needle on student success and retention.
The full report is viewable online.