The RESEARCH Agenda

The Retention Project and the Investigation of a Non-returning New Student Re-enrollment Strategy Study

This article follows a small piece of one community college’s SEM journey in using its student retention data to identify opportunities to deploy re-enrollment strategies. The re-enrollment rates of new students who did not return following their first semester served as the starting point of the investigation; the goal of the project was to re-enroll 5 percent of the students. The non-returning students were randomly divided into two groups that received differing types of outreach: a postcard or a phone call in addition to a postcard. The goal was met, with 6 percent of students re-enrolling; however, the control group re-enrolled at a higher rate than the experimental group. The results also showed that 63 percent of students successfully completed the call to action of both the postcard and the phone call: to schedule an appointment with a counselor or advisor.

The re-enrollment strategy originated from a larger investigation conducted by LaShure and Waubonsee Community College’s institutional effectiveness team and supported by the college’s Strategic Enrollment Management Committee. The two areas partnered to answer the question “How are students who re-enroll different from students who do not?” One of the findings was that new students were at higher risk of not returning after their first semester; this finding prompted the investigation of the re-enrollment strategy.

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