Student Retention Affects Graduation Rates, Success

Black and Hispanic Women Retention Drops Over Last Four Years

By Alanis Quirindongo

From fall to fall, Seminole State College has an estimated 50 percent retention rate for associate degree students, which means that half of those enrolled in degree-seeking programs in the fall do not come back the next school year.

Retention specialists at the college acknowl­edge that this problem is being tackled head-on through numerous services, but the student body is often not aware of the issue or the resources that the college offers, said Dr. Mark Morgan, the associate vice president of Institutional Effective­ness.

Resources that Seminole State offers to help ensure the academic and personal success of its students include Destination Graduation, free bus rides for students with Lynx, the Academ­ic Success Center, and Academic Advising and Counseling.

In addition, retention specialists are given stu­dent data so they can assess who needs advising and who to personally reach out to via email to work on removing any holds or obstacles that impede students from continuing their path to graduation.

According to Morgan, most of the difficulties that cause students to drop out aren’t academic, but instead personal reasons such as health com­plications, work, family, and monetary problems. Therefore, it is important for the student body to be educated on this topic and the resources that are available on campus in case they ever run into a problem that endangers their ability to stay in school.

He pointed out that 50 percent is not the col­lege’s dropout rate. Instead, he said, the true dropout rate of those who never come back to the school is about 12 to 15 percent. He explained that while students may leave for a while, many eventually return.

The reason why student retention is an im­portant and vital aspect of Seminole State, or any other college, is that it is a leading indicator of graduation rates and the overall success of each individual student.

“Losing students means that their dreams ar­en’t being realized,” explained Mandisa Greene, diversity chair for the Student Government As­sociation at the Sanford/Lake Mary campus.

She also shed light on student retention with­in minorities at Seminole State, especially within minority female students, stating that “it’s be­coming more of a crisis for black female students because of how far [the numbers] had fallen.”

For black female students, the retention rates have dropped from 85.2 percent in 2013-2014 to 70.9 percent in 2017-2018.

For female Hispanic students, it has dropped from 86.8 percent to 79.1 percent for the same years.

To alleviate this problem, Greene suggested creating co-curriculars specifically targeting fe­male minorities like a step team or cheer group to get them involved in and engaged with the school.

Ultimately, the overall Fall to Fall Retention goal is 60 percent, Morgan said, and while it is not that far from the current numbers, the ide­al result would be for every student to be able to reach their full potential and achieve their goals.

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