This Week's Message
Just like most classes over the course of a term, the little world of institutional data ebbs and flows as intermediary dates and deadlines come and go. One such moment comes with the 10th day snapshot. For those who don't know, on the 10th day of each term, we take a picture of our institutional data and save it separately for a host of reporting and analytic purposes. One important number taken from this snapshot is our annual 1st to 2nd year retention rate - the proportion of our freshmen who return as full-time students the next year.
Over the last ten years, this number has bounced around between just south of 88% and just north of 82%, with an average of 85.8%. This year (meaning the 1st to 2nd year retention of our 2011 freshman class), we retained 84.4% of last year's freshman cohort.
Setting aside the initial reaction to that number, the real story lies in the context of three intertwined narratives. The first is the degree to which that overall average differs from the retention rates of different subgroups such as lower income students, multicultural students, male students, or those who came to Augustana relatively less academically prepared. The second narrative involves the degree to which the potential differences outlined above may contribute to a historical trend. The third story - and what I would argue is likely most important in our continual efforts to reach our educational potential and live our mission as educators - is the deeper exploration to identify and address the factors that drive these differences.
This week, I'd like to share pieces of these three narratives in two different ways. With the help of my little IR&A team, I'll host a Friday Conversation this week in the Wilson Center to talk about the story behind the numbers, both in terms of this cohort of students now in their second year at Augustana and in terms of the recent history of differences in retention rates of various subgroups of students.
In addition, I'll explore data from the new senior survey to better understand how different types of students experience Augustana differently in my weekly blog Delicious Ambiguity. We'll revisit these findings at the Friday Conversation and talk about them specifically in the context of student retention.
I hope you'll join us at Friday Conversation and read Delicious Ambiguity this week. I've ordered the southwest egg rolls. It should be fun.
Have a great week,