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Undergraduate Retention Rates Highest in 5 Years

Strategic efforts in assessing and improving student retention has resulted in several record-breaking percentages.

Over the last several years, multiple teams have worked together to improve student success and retention in the College of Arts & Sciences through the Moving the Needle project. This collaborative effort and the resources and expertise from outside of Bethel have focused on the student experience and included improvements in processes and curriculum. Essential to the work of Moving the Needle is the integration of the “cord of three strands” of academic learning, student life, and campus ministries.

Moving the Needle has been a multi-year project with the overall goal to improve student success and retention by enhancing student engagement, academic performance, personal growth, and spiritual growth. An evaluation of Bethel’s processes aimed to provide information about what makes Bethel students stay and about what makes students thrive at Bethel in order to guide the re-visioning. This produced 11 strategic initiatives, including:

  • Student formation and success
  • First- and second-year experience
  • Academic advising and planning
  • Exploring living and learning residential models
  • Revising the Honors program
  • Pipelines for student success
  • Success of a diverse student body
  • Comprehensive early alert implementation
  • Project day one, an effort to coordinate and facilitate the completion of various processes and sequences for incoming students.

Vice President and Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Deb Sullivan-Trainor recently announced data for undergraduate retention rates, impacted by Moving the Needle. A few significant numbers included record-breaking retention of 96.9 percent this spring for first time full-time students who entered in fall 2015, as well as the overall student retention rate at a remarkable 96.7%, the highest in the last five years.

The Moving the Needle leadership team and its sub-project teams are being led by members of various offices and areas of campus. The teams include staff from student life, campus ministries, academic administration and faculty, financial aid, the business office, and marketing. Guidance for the project was provided by Credo, a higher education consulting firm.

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