34: First-Year Retention Data at Flagler College w/ Joseph Provenza

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Joseph Provenza, Vice President for Technology Services and Chief Information Officer at Flagler College, discusses some incredibly interesting and even counter-intuitive findings from digging into their first-year retention data.

You're listening to enrolment growth,university from helics education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow in Romant at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh endromant growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to anroman growthuniversity, a proud member of the connect Edu podcast network, Imeri,Olson AVP of marketing at helicks education and were here today withJoseph Pravenza Vice President for Technology Services and ChiefInformation Officer at flaglow college. Joe Welcome the show thanks, Sirappreciate you having me on really excited to talk with you today aboutsome incredibly interesting ind, even counter intuitive findings from youdigging into your first year retention data. But before we dig into that jokeand you cget the listeners a little bit better understanding of both flaglerand your role. There flacker college is...

...a small private college in NortheastFlorida. We have majors in the liberal arts, and preprofessional programs wereabout twenty five hundred students in the in the traditional program. We alsohave a some degree: completion programs as well awesome, Joe. Your freshmanretention model uncovered a bunch of correlative factors for predictingstudent persistence. Many were intuitive a couple weren't. Let's startby talking about the persistence level, for those students who come frombetween fifteen hundred and twenty miles from campus and how theypersisted compared to those who actually came from further from campussure, there was a little bit of a surprise there. We undertook modelingour freshman class with some historical data from our system, just to see whatsort of pain of the picture of the successful versus the unsuccessfulstudent and we had our service provider. Ginze bar do a bunch of modeling for USand Y. U know, as you might expect, a lot of things were just wrigte down theline, how you would expect them to be,...

...but data often has a way of surprisingus and us being emotional creatures, things that we wouldn't ordinarilythink about, and so one of those probably the biggest surprise, was thatif you looked at the rings, the concentric rings of how far O studentswere coming from home to our campus, you would haveexpected the closer the better that in our case, we found that local studentsseem to do very well, but the students in the very next tear over roughly fromfifty to o e hundred miles away from home, were our poorest retainersgeographically, and nobody expected that and then after that, the ringswent out just as you would expect once they get a little too far from home.You, you see a little retention problem there, but everybody else is doing fineand we did not expect that second tier to be what it was and that immediatelygot US thinking. Well, what could be the cause of that? And the first thingyou think of is while here's kids, who are away from home, but not too faraway from home, so they can always go back home. They don't get a chance toget over the homesickness. They get to hang out with their friends any oldtime they want, because it's a day trip...

...it's a weekend trip and you could kindof see where ind the absence of some things we might do in our student lifeprograms to really weave them into the college and encourage them not to gohome. They might go home a little too much and maybe just not persist. It'ssuper interesting Joe. Are there any corrective actions that you're takingto focus on this group to get them more involved, get the more engaged oncampus? We absolutely are that's one of those. Those findings that we took asactionable on our campus, and so a lot of focus and energy has been put intoour student life programs in a myriad of ways, but yeah suffice to say thatthe campus took action. You know financially and and staff, andotherwise just say: What can we do? What how can we put together programsand events and activities, and how can we pump up? You know school spirit, ind,athletic events to keep these kids here and you know make this their home awayfrom home. It's really good. I'm also curious how you ere, Inroman team hasreacted to these findings. Do they plan...

...to you know, shift how they targetgeographically in the future. Based on this data. Dyou know I'd not heard that,because we've got some very fertile recruiting grounds over in those areas.I think right now. The idea is, you know, let's recruit there, but but fixanything on this campus that might be making this a weaker group- and youknow I know the logical next question iswell. You Know Howis, that working for it and it's too early to tell wehaven't, got the Datia, but if we pour all this into student life programs andjust come to find that that's those just aren't good areas for us, thepeople who do this for a living, they'll tell you, you know. If youreally give them enough time and money, ther will they'll tell you where torecruit from, and I'm not quite I've, not quite seen it to that, but they swear up and down that. That'swhat you can do. So I think right now. We need to bolster up our student lifeprograms and get to that clean baseline of you know that, and our student lifegroup does a great job, but there's...

...just those things that you you know youcan always do a better job, any area of it. Joe. Let's talk about the other,somewhat surprising result from your findings, the extraordinarily largetwenty six percent, lift that one particular factor played to your firstyear, student retention. Ah, yes, campus employment. You would havethought we would have thought. I would have thought that that campusemployment yeah- they probably retain a little better on now. They retain waybetter, and that was another area that sort of caught us off guard, and wewere confirmed in this when about a year year and a half later, where itwas sitting in a conference hearing. Another school talk about going throughthe same exact thing that we did and the gentleman who was speaking kind ofsaved it for his big last point and who knew that campus employment was such ahuge indicator of attention. If e crowds woing an im like that, I beenthere and done that we know tha, but it makes sense when you think about it,because again anything that weaves, a person into the fabric of theinstitution is good and they get to...

...work with people and they get to seeresults. Just like an employee, they get to kind of be part of the thing andit was it was. It showed as a huge indicator of Er attention and againvery something we could be very actionable about. So you know I some ofUS had always questioned. You know why? Don't we put more into our work studyprograms will now we are and looking to employ more students. Well, that's aripple effect, because you know the more student Labor we can use thestudents obviously do better because they're making money they're enjoyingbeing part of the success and, in addition that helps us. You know someof our offices that are a little bit more thinly staff to have a little bitmore leeway to employ some student help and find more creative ways to use them.So that's worked out, I think very well for us, and what kind of conversationsdoes that kind of modeling feedback bring on campus in terms of okay? If wefigure out ten to fifteen hour a week employment for this percentage ofstudents, we can expect them to you know: persix. Twenty six percent youknow longer on campus is that the kind...

...of math that you're doing from frombased on these modeling results. No, no we're looking at this more in kind of ahigher level, and we have a couple of things that we can just immediatelytake action on and see what that does to our ettention rate. But you know,retention is not just a couple of factors. Retention is incredibly complex and when you, whenyou really think about it, you know there's certain things that you'll losestudents to that you just have no control over, they might Nescesay, youknow a boyfriend or a girlfriend or- or you know I do first year advising hereand I so gotten to know some of our first year. Students quite well- andsometimes you just- cannot account for how they're going to react from beingaway from home. You know in to that end, we do have some other things that we'rethat were working and we have used and seen where we do some noncognitivestudent assessment, with our incoming students to find out things that youknow where the student s literally commenting on themselves about how theyfeel about how academically confident...

...they are, how tied they feel to theinstitution like. Were we their first choice? You know with their timemanagement skills and all those sorts of things, and so you take all thisdata together and you really feel like you get to know the student just thatmuch more and you could say that about any relationship in life. You know themore you know about a person that you care about, and obviously we should becarring about our students, because you know we're being entrusted with a youknow, a pretty sacred thing and but the more you get to know about a personthet better, you can serve them, relate to them, etc, etc, and so, with all ofthis stuff together- and I will say, we'Resoe, you know we're still takingour baby steps with this. You get to know the students just that much more,and so that translates into a lot of things when they come to you with acertain thing that just doesn't totally catch, you off guard you're, betterable to help them through it. And it's you know. It's been an interestingadventure, ND, I'm looking forward to to more oin. It's such good stuff Jon.I think you are encouraging a lot of our listeners to really dig into theirdata and see what hidden stories are...

...there that they might not be aware ofany next step recommendations for institutions, whoare, looking to diginto their data and see what potential surprises lie underneath the firstthing I can tell you, and- and I know this is this- is a struggle for a lotof a lot of not just higher education everywhere, the best quality data youcan provide. I mean, if you're not already paying very, very closeattention to the data that you collect and how you use it and how youcategorize it and how consistent you are with it. That is the first step, ismaking sure that you've got good, clean data off of which to get this kind ofinformation, and then, after that you know, unless you're a school, that'sgot. You know a lot of you know quantoidson staff, who love doing thissort of thing you you know you find a good partner and then you logic out howyou want to modle your data. What do you think your trigger points are andall that you know so that you can actually have a model that makes senseto you that you can look at when you get those surprising results? Youalready have a step in the right...

...direction of trying to figure out whyyou're, seeing what you're, seeing and and what the next best thing to do isjoe thanks. So much for Shaing Er thoughts today, what is the best placefor listeners to connect with you? They have any valloe questions. Well, youcan reach me on Linkdin, just search for Joseph Pravenza flagger college,and I would say that that's probably thebest way to reach out message me on Linkedon and I will happily respondawesome thanks against so much for joining us today, Joe Great Erc, thankyou so much for having me attracting today's new post. Traditional learnersmeans adopting new enromant strategies. Keelics educations data drivenenterprise, wide approach to enrolment growth is uniquely helping colleges anduniversities thrive in this new education, landscape and Helex has justpublished the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fiftypercent brand new content. On how institutions can solve today's mostpressing, enrolment growth challenges download it today for free at Helocks,Educationcom playbook...

...you've been listening to enromentgrowth university from helics education to ensure that you never miss anepisode subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thankyou so much for listening until next time.

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