Oakland University
Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Student retention, graduation rates up amid targeted advising efforts

OU's graduation rate more than doubles over the last 20 years. Recent campaigns boost retention rates for first- and second-year students.
The latest figures from Oakland University’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA) reveal tremendous progress in student retention and graduation rates.

According to the data, the four-year graduation rate among First Time in Any College (FTIAC) students has more than doubled – going from 9 percent to 19 percent – over the past 20 years. In addition, the percentage of students returning as sophomores in their second year has climbed from 42 percent in 2003 to 67 percent in 2013. 

These findings come as University advising leaders have spotlighted the importance of keeping students on track to graduate through initiatives such as the “28” Campaign and Focus on the Finish Line. The “28” Campaign keeps students focused on gaining the 28 credits needed for sophomore standing by the end of their first year. OIRA statistics show that since the campaign launched in winter 2012, the percentage of full-time FTIAC students enrolled for 14 or more credits has reached 82 percent, a 12 percent increase over pre-campaign levels. 

Likewise, Focus on the Finish Line, which started in fall 2011, helps students chart their OU careers by offering advice at each stage, including useful tips on campus involvement, leadership opportunities, jobs and internships, and preparation for graduate school. 

To further support timely degree completion, the University established the First Year Advising Center and the Second Year Experience. OIRA statistics point to the positive impact these developments have had on student retention and academic progress. For the University’s 2012 freshman class – the first to go through the First Year Advising Center and Second Year Experience – 49 percent are now juniors, a 10 percent increase over the previous year, and the overall retention rate is 10 percent higher as well.  

The First Year Advising Center provides advising services for all first-year students, as well as those who are undecided or re-deciding on their major. It also offers centralized major and career exploration services to undecided or re-deciding students and facilitates a variety of first-year programs, including orientation sessions. Each first-year student is assigned an adviser to meet with at least once per semester to review academic progress. 

“OU has made a significant investment in the success of our students by taking purposeful steps to improve their advising experience,” said Sara Webb, director of the First Year Advising Center. “The addition of the First Year Advising Center has helped new students understand the significance of the adviser-to-student relationship and help them to build a solid connection with the University.”  

The Second Year Experience (SYE) program helps provide a seamless transition for students as they leave the First Year Advising Center and start receiving advising services from Professional Academic Advisers within their chosen major. 

“This Second Year Experience program is an opportunity to share engagement possibilities with students early in their undergraduate experience, particularly emphasizing engagements within their major,” said Krista Malley. “The ultimate goal is for students to have meaningful experiences within their majors and be registered for their third year at Oakland University, helping them get ever closer to their goal of graduation. Advising at OU is a team effort to keep students focused on the goal of graduation.”

For more information on academic advising at OU, visit the website at oakland.edu/advising or contact the First Year Advising Center at (248) 370-3227.

These findings come as University advising leaders have spotlighted the importance of keeping students on track to graduate through initiatives such as the “28” Campaign and Focus on the Finish Line.

Created by Eric Reikowski (esreikow@oakland.edu) on Monday, October 27, 2014
Modified by Colleen Campbell (cjcampbell@oakland.edu) on Friday, November 14, 2014
Article Start Date: Tuesday, November 11, 2014