Helping a UCCS student decide to continue to his sophomore year could be as easy as saying “hello” outside of class.
Barbara Gaddis, executive director of Student Retention and First Year Experience, shared student comments about decisions to continue at UCCS during a Thursday, Dec. 1, forum. She was joined by Homer Wesley, vice chancellor of Student Success and Enrollment Management, and Martin Wood, vice chancellor of University Advancement, for an overview of student recruitment, marketing and retention efforts.
“Sometimes it’s the little things,” Gaddis said. “I had a student tell me that it was the fact that his faculty member said hello to him outside of class that made him feel connected to UCCS. Retention is not the goal but the outcome of an excellent undergraduate experience.”
Gaddis complimented those who attended the forum as well as other faculty and staff for helping 71 percent – a record number -- of UCCS students continue from their freshman year to their sophomore year. Some students enter UCCS with the goal of transferring to other colleges. And while Gaddis celebrated the success, she was clear that student decisions to stay at UCCS, transfer, or quit school are complicated.
Gaddis highlighted various programs in place to help students succeed. They include an early warning system where faculty concerned about a student can alert the Office of First Year Experience and Transfer Student Connections, Freshman Seminar as well as the Centers for Academic Excellence and both formal and informal mentoring programs. Gaddis also cited a number of statistics that indicated which students are most likely to succeed. Academic preparation, the number of hours worked, the selection of an academic program, athletic participation, and even housing decisions contribute to student success.
Wesley celebrated the record fall enrollment of 9,321 students and 107,582 credit hours as well as a 1,300-plus student freshman class. A large freshman class, combined with strong retention efforts, should provide stability for UCCS. He also called enrollment a campuswide effort.
“This success is not the result of a single year of efforts,” Wesley said. “The work and planning that has taken place over at least the last three years – and maybe the work and planning that has taken place since 1965 – is what resulted in these positive numbers.”
Challenges ahead for UCCS include increasing student-borne costs for education, providing online courses for traditional- and non-traditional-age students, flexible course times, additional out-of-state and international students, and students returning to college after careers in the military or private sectors.
“Our ability to meet the needs of our state and the needs of individual students require a very high level of responsiveness,” Wesley said. “It requires that we begin to do work in different ways than we’ve ever done before.”
Wood provided an overview of student recruitment marketing efforts that include radio, television and newspaper advertisements and a student recruitment video, as well as direct-mail contacts of students and online advertising. From Nov. 15 through March 31, more than 3,180 television advertisements will be aired on Denver and Colorado Springs television stations.