“To recruit, to retain, to graduate”, according to the Grambling’s website this is the mission for Grambling State University students who enter into the Office of Student Retention. This program is said to give students the tools to handle tough classes, tutors, give them skills that they can use throughout their college experience, and ultimately graduate.
Although the program is meant to help Grambling students as well as the university by keeping the dropout rates low the success of the Retention Center and future of the Retention Center were not looking so promising last fall.
Nikelyia Lard was the only Retention Specialist at Grambling State University. There were six specialists working in the department but due to budget cuts five of them were let go. Ms. Lard says common problems that the students have are attendance issues, study issues, or just needs someone to talk to. “Most students do well if they come earlier enough, they’ll pass with a C or better”, according to Ms. Lard. Now that raises the question of, how many students are taking advantages of this opportunity. To ensure that every student takes full advantage of the educational opportunities, the University has implemented an Early Alert Retention Program, coordinated by the Office of Retention.
Teacher’s send off a notification to students who they see are not doing well. Each semester more than two hundred are sent out and less than ten of those students actually come to the Retention Center.
This raises questions, why is the number so small? Are teachers sending out the notification to their students? Do the students care? According to Lard the problem is the lack of focus, “Students should know how to balance social and academics. There should be more attention given to student skills on adjusting to college life”.
The future of the Office of the Retention Center is questionable not only due to lack of interest from the students but also from lack of focus on the student’s academics from the school.
“The schools focus basically is not as important on keeping students here as it should, orientations and seminars should be given like at other universities to better help students make that transition, and The Student Success department has also received lay-off letters so making a shift from the decrease of drop out students will be difficult without the help of that program,” said Lard.
Student Success Center is meant to provide a learning environment that allows students the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to achieve academic success. With the dropout rate being so high and grades not being where they should be for most students this would seem like a program that the university should focus more on.
Lard’s last day working as a Retention Specialist for the university was on October 17, 2013. Gloria George is currently serving as the Interim Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management. She is working with the Student Success program to help with restructuring the Retention Office. Once the process is complete she plans to supply more information to the students and the faculty.
I think it is clear based on the dropout rate and the high number of students failing that there needs to be a program for students who are struggling at the university so the sooner the program is complete, the better it will be for the students and the university.