On average, 68 to 71 percent of first year students return for a second year of school at Emporia State, and for the past 10 years, this rate has been steady.
Jim Williams, associate provost for Enrollment Management and vice president for Strategic Partnerships, said this is approximately the standard retention rate for the type of institution that ESU is.
“Every student is so individual and different,” said Shelley Gehrke, director of Student Advising. “Sometimes they have financial obligations or they’re just really homesick and decide to take time off and work. It’s their first independence, trying to learn how to do life and college. (College) is a big step.”
Some of the most common factors for students not returning to universities include the inability to pay, alcohol misuse and indecision on schooling, said Lynn Hobson, associate vice-president for Student Life.
“No matter how well you’ve prepared, there’s something that’s going to overwhelm you,” Williams said.
But to help decrease two of these factors, ESU is teaming up with EverFyi Inc. to implement AlcoholEdu and Buttonwood, new programs which will take effect in the coming fall semester.
AlcoholEdu is a mandatory alcohol prevention program where first-year and transfer students will answer questions about their alcohol use 45 days before coming onto campus and 45 days after coming onto campus, said Donna Drake, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention coordinator and counselor.
“There’s a lack of rules and regulations (in college),” Drake said. “They’ll definitely learn about themselves (through AlcoholEdu).”
Buttonwood is an online resource that will help students with personal finances, such as how to build a budget, how to use a budget and how to responsibly use a credit card. Students will also be able to use the resource to make a graph of monthly income and what their expenses are.
“Often times coming into college, it’s the first time for many people to have full or almost full responsibility for financial life,” Hobson said.
Several other initiatives have been taken to make changes in keeping students on campus, Gehrke said. Hornet Connections, for example, will now feature Peer Academic Leaders who can give advice and answer questions for future students.
“I think everyone on campus, students alike, are a part of the retention effort,” Gehrke said, “such as sharing how much you enjoy ESU and have appreciated some of the experiences and opportunities. Hearing it from another student is one of the best ways to learn.”
A new freshman seminar will also be launched in the fall. A one-hour credit for undecided majors, the seminar will give students information on college success, major exploration and building relationships.
“I hope (students) learn that it’s okay to ask for help,” Gehrke said. “They are not alone in some of their transitional issues for college. You don’t have to make any life-long decisions right away.”
Students with questions and concerns about being a successful student at ESU may contact Williams at email@example.com.