Editorial

SEMO retention rate is a positive sign for students, school

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Going to college is one thing. Getting a degree is another.

Southeast Missouri State University reported numbers last week that support a positive development in its students' pursuit of degrees.

While Southeast has experienced a 4.6 percent drop in its overall enrollment from a year ago, it has reported a record retention rate among its student body. According to the early numbers, more than 75 percent of students enrolled last year have returned.

The school's overall decline in enrollment can be attributed to a drop in international-student enrollment, an occurence that is being felt nationwide, not just at Southeast. However, the rate of retention of students seems to say much more about individual schools, the student experience they provide and the type of students they attract. First off, for a student to return, they must be academically eligible, and Southeast has taken strides to increase the chances for incoming freshmen, who can sometimes be overwhelmed by course demands. Not all students enter college equally prepared, and Southeast astutely has offered remediation courses in mathematics and English to assist students enrolled in credit-bearing courses to promote a successful outcome. Smoothing out early adversity with strong fundamentals can be the difference between discouragement and failing grades and encouragement, passing grades and staying the course. And training faculty to be proactive and identify struggling students early on through the Masters Advisor program is something Southeast has done, Debbie Below, dean of students, told Southeast Missourian reporter Marybeth Niederkorn.

The retention rate also speaks well of a variety of degrees that cater to student interests. More career avenues at a school means an increased likelihood of staying from start to finish. And the greater variety of degrees, the better the chances students remain engaged in studies they're passionate about while undecided students can find suitable matches as they progress.

The fact is, college is expensive these days, no matter where you go. Quitting on tuition already paid is really expensive. And the fact students are choosing to stay at Southeast at a record rate is good news -- for students, parents and the school.

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