Q & A with President Delaney regarding the drop in student enrollment and factors relating to increasing retention.
- President Delaney shared that enrollment has dropped by a small percentage this year, and while it is not necessarily tied to admissions standards, UNF will be lowering the SAT requirement by 15 points for Fall 2016. Research shows that GPA is a far better indicator of student success, and that as long as the student’s high school GPA is above 3.5, there can be a 300 point swing in SAT score with no difference in retention. Without changing any additional criteria for Fall, we should see a 200 FTE jump because of the lower SAT requirement.
Question: do we have a way to track whether high GPA students are the ones who leave?
Answer: Roughly 25% of students transfer out. The bulk (third to half) transfer to FSCJ, primarily because of low grades or money concerns. Another big chunk of transfers are to the 4 big football schools: UF, FSU, USF, UCF. Realistically, we cannot do better than 60% based on our student make-up.
Question: Can we shrink the senior survey and make it mandatory?
Answer: We can’t make it mandatory and many feel our students suffer from survey fatigue. We could offer gift cards as an incentive and shorten it. The senior survey could be a great way to understand why students stay here and graduate.
Student Retention Factors: We know that students will stay if they bond with another person at the university. This fact should be communicated to faculty by administration to ensure high-quality faculty engagement. Advising has gotten much better recently because of the support given to move it to the colleges. Market supports the positive rates for particular majors, students will stay in because they can see a job at the end. “Stonewall” courses: we need a screening system for courses that students are likely to fail. It may be that we need to offer additional support for the students enrolled, we may need to switch the professor, find an alternative. Merit money may also help those students who are dead-set on transferring to football schools upon enrollment. On-campus housing can help to change the mentality of the students who start here and bond them the university.
Recruitment: Applications to all 10 other SUS schools have doubled in last 10 years, but ours are flat. We aren’t marketing and recruiting correctly. We need to market less here and more in Orlando, etc. It costs a lot of money. Discussion of UNF’s reputation and ranking status. We are 1 of 2 schools in Florida that add value. We need to boost our academic reputation, we are 10th in the state in terms of research output., for example.
Conclusions: Our enrollment will be larger next fall, but we have to be careful because we don’t necessarily get the state tuition to support more students, and we may end up not graduating the students as quickly if there is competition for classes, larger classes, etc. Faculty can help because they work closely with students.