So, Tell Me Why You Decided to Leave Kent State?

Anna Staver

Students who withdraw from classes can now give their reasons to a computer and avoid the awkward face-to-face chat thanks to Kent State’s shift to an online questionnaire.

“Very often, even if we are able to contact students and speak with them, they don’t wish to divulge why they departed,” said Senior Associate Provost Timothy Chandler. “As such, they tend to ignore e-mails, and we often don’t have current ‘permanent address’ phone numbers particularly if they move.”

Chandler recently completed a three-year review of Kent State’s retention policies and plans to present his findings in an internal report that will come out in the next couple of weeks.

The completion of Chandler’s review coincides with the Ohio Board of Regents recent changes to the university’s State Share of Instruction. Previously, Kent received funds from the state based on a head count of all students enrolled in classes. Now, they require that students not only attend those classes, but also receive a passing grade at the end of the semester.

“We have to change how we focus on our classes to make sure that we really work more successfully to move students through the entire course and to the sixteenth week with a grade,” said Provost Robert G. Frank.

That process starts by understanding why former students decide to leave in the first place. Previously, when a student wanted a complete withdrawal from all classes, they had to schedule a face-to-face meeting with an adviser.

The Office of Advising and Academic Affairs also attempts to contact all students who complete the semester and then decide not to return. However, some students, like former Kent State freshman Sidney Wilson manage to fall through the cracks.

“I spoke to my adviser about changing my major but not about leaving,” said Wilson in a phone interview.

Wilson, who decided to transfer to another college, said the office never contacted her after she left.

Now students can withdraw online via Flashline. The website requires them to fill out a questionnaire before their withdrawal can be processed.

The short survey asks why they are leaving, if they intend to return and if the student would like to be contacted by phone or e-mail for any reason. The online form also offers a box where the student can explain why they left.

“Sometimes their explanation is very short,” said Sandi Randulic, Office of Advising and Academic Services director in a phone interview. “Sometimes their response is five or six sentences, and some are very lengthy.”

The shift to an online questionnaire gives an opportunity for students to be more open than they might be in person. Randulic said openness gives an idea of why the students are actually leaving.

The option to withdraw from classes for fall semester began yesterday and ends on Nov. 7. The standard deadline is on a Sunday, which is another reason why the questionnaire moved online. The advising office is closed on the weekends, and in the past, students had no way to meet with an adviser for the last two days of the withdrawal period.

“Being able to do it online enables students to drop down to zero (credit hours) during the allotted time,” Randulic said.

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