Campus ‘experience’ linked to record high retention rate

Kristen Kobe

The experiences that students have at Kent State University have resulted in a record high retention rate for fall 2014.  Freshman to sophomore retention rates have increased more than 5 percent compared to 2012.

University Provost Todd Diacon attributes the increase of returning students to the broad engagement and physical experience Kent provides through various activities that focus on engaging students. 

“You want to take advantage of the big university and all we have to offer, but you need to create a smaller sense of community,” Diacon said.

Kent State offers resources and activities that help students and faculty develop relationships with each other, including implementation of mandatory advising for all students and enhanced academic advising for students who are undecided in their major.   

The faculty and staff focus on retaining students and pushing them to do the best they can do, said T. David Garcia, associate vice president for enrollment management.

“Collective effort from faculty and staff is what is working and that’s why we are seeing more students being retained,” Garcia said.

Over the last 10 years retention rates have stayed within 70 to 75 percent.  In addition to improvements in academics, Diacon and Garcia said Kent is consistently making changes and improvements to outdated parts of campus.  The campus is beautiful and full of fresh excitement, Garcia said.

The final retention rate percentage will not be finalized until 15 days after the fall semester begins, but Diacon said he believed Kent State’s retention numbers will definitely increase.  

“A lot of times you’ll improve on anything once you pay attention to it,” Diacon said.  “And we started paying attention to it.”

Kent’s efforts are not going unnoticed. Corey Patterson plans to return as a sophomore communication studies major in the fall.  Patterson, who is from London, Ohio, said he came to Kent only knowing a few people. Patterson said looks forward to his future at Kent State after meeting people who are “unlike anyone I have ever met.” 

“One of the main reasons I came back is the opportunities Kent has,” Patterson said.  “I’m a big leadership guy, and Kent gave me all the opportunities I needed.”

Garcia said Kent State University will continue to connect with students in and out of the classroom. 

“The retention rate is just the means to a much more important end, the ultimate goal is to graduate,” Diacon said. “If we don’t retain you from freshman to sophomore years…then we’re not going to get them to graduation.”

Contact Kristen Kobe at [email protected].