By Kosha Oswald – Collegiate Staff
Grand Rapids Community College’s retention data was released at the latest board meeting. The data proves that retention rates, as well as the graduation yield, have increased in recent years.
“The retention rates for our African American students are not increasing as fast as I would like” said John Cowles, Dean of Student Success and Retention. “We will continue to work at retaining all students with an emphasis on meeting the needs of our African American students.”
The data shows the retention rates for fall to winter semester, fall to fall semester, and the graduation yield. The data also breaks up the fall to winter and fall to fall rates based on race and gender of the students. Retention rates measure the percentage of first-time students who return to the institution to continue their studies.
The following rates represent retention rates from fall14/winter15 semester to fall15/winter16 semester.
- Female student retention increased from 79 percent to 89 percent
- Male student retention remained steady at 75 percent
- Hispanic student retention increased from 75 percent to 81 percent
- African American student retention decreased from 69 percent to 67 percent
- White student retention remained at 78 percent
The fall to winter data for 2015/2016 also shows that three out of every four students attending GRCC for the fall semester return for the winter semester, increasing from 77 percent to 78 percent overall.
“Our retention rates for fall to winter increased slightly overall to 78 percent,” Cowles said, “While we don’t have IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) just yet for the recent period, we have consistently done better than our comparison schools.”
The following rates represent retention rates from fall14/fall15 semester to fall15/fall16 semesters.
- Female student retention increased from 53.1 percent to 55.2 percent
- Male student retention increased from 48.1 percent to 51.7 percent
- Hispanic student retention increased from 52.1 percent to 54.3 percent
- African American student retention increased just slightly from 33.2 percent to 33.5 percent
- White student retention increased from 52.2 percent to 55 percent
The data also shows the rates for fall to fall semesters. Over half of the students that enroll for the first time in the fall, re-enroll for the next fall term. Statistics showed this number increased from 50 percent in 2014 to 53 percent for 2015.
“The retention rates for our African American students are not increasing as fast as I would like” Cowles said. “We will continue to work at retaining all students with an emphasis on meeting the needs of our African American students.”
At this time, there are several initiatives underway to provide support to African American students so that these retention rates will improve. Women Empowering Leadership and Learning (WELL) and Alpha Beta Omega (ABO) are two groups that are meant to provide support. WELL is designed to support women of color and ABO is a leadership program for African American males on campus. These groups provide mentoring and academic and life success strategies. These groups are designed to empower students and are open to all students.
The graduation yield that was also presented in the data has been increasing over the past two years. From 7.6 percent for 2013-2014 school year to 8.3 percent for the 2015-2016 school year. For the 2015/2016 school year 1,792 students graduated and 19,728 students attended as non-graduates.
“I am pleased that our retention rates are improving,” Cowles said. “I want to see all student groups improving as well.”