|Population Reach:||1-9% of WI's population|
|Impact on Disparities:|
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College student retention programs tend to focus primarily on students in their first and second year of college as this is the time when the greatest number of students withdraw from postsecondary education (ACT 2004). Such programs vary substantially in design and execution. Examples include: Early alert, assessment, and monitoring systems to identify students at risk of dropping out for early intervention; Freshman Seminar; and HORIZONS. Organizational Theory practices, designed to create an institutional culture conducive to student retention, are another means of encouraging college student retention.
ACT-Student retention 2004 indicates that emphasis on retention strategies over the past several decades has not had a substantial impact on college retention overall. However, such programs have been effective in some venues and for some students: US ED-Dale 1995 reports that 85% of students participating in HORIZON, a Purdue University based student retention program, were retained compared to only 47% of non-enrollee peers. Participants indicated that belonging to a support network, having assistance with effective study methods, and tutoring were most important to their decision not to leave school.
ACT-Habley 2010 review of college retention efforts among 4-year public colleges concludes that the following programs were most useful in discouraging students from leaving college:
• Freshman seminar/university 101 courses
• Supplemental instruction
• Living/learning communities
• Advising interventions with selected student populations
• Mandated placement of students in courses based on test scores
• Academic advising center
• Summer orientation
• Establishment and use of an early warning system
Early warning systems, freshman seminar/university 101 courses, advising interventions with selected student populations, faculty mentoring, tutoring, summer orientation, and internships were also reportedly effective at 4-year private colleges (ACT-Habley 2010a).
A recent survey of public and private colleges found that only 59% offered a freshman seminar (51% for credit and 8% not for credit).
A number of University of Wisconsin system schools offer freshman seminars to incoming students.