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May 21, 2007

St. Francis Tapped to Share Retention Expertise

Freshman Studies Leads the Way on Keeping Students in College

Colleges across the country are constantly looking for ways to make sure every student that enrolls at college stays until they graduate. St. Francis College has devoted many of its resources to the problem and now is being recognized for the innovative ways the College is tackling the issue of retention.

Administrators from the Freshman Studies Program and Office of Admission will be making trips to the Educational Policy Institute (EPI) conference in San Antonio, Texas, May 21-24 and the Noel-Levitz National Workshop in Orlando, Florida, July 10 and 11 to talk about the Freshman Studies Program and how St. Francis College supports all students in school as they work towards their degree.

"We wanted to gain a better understanding of the reasons why some of our students were not finishing school. Our research highlighted some consistent trends that identified risk factors contributing to attrition," said Director of Freshman Studies and Academic Advisement Monica Michalski. "Then the hard work was figuring out what interventions we could use to help students achieve their goals."

The research showed that students with unclear career goals coupled with poor initial grades were more likely to not complete their college education.

"In the past, our data was used on a case by case basis, but when we compiled the retention predictors at an institutional level we found that some of the factors were universal," said Director of Planning and Institutional Research Steven Catalano. "Now, we are able to focus on key predictors like financial insecurity and receptivity to academic assistance and get students the help they need."

Part of the response by the College was to create a mandatory one credit class for all freshman students, SFC 1001. SFC 1001 teaches time and stress management, success strategies, how to search for a major and a career, as well as where to get help while at St. Francis.

"By engaging students very early on and helping them develop short-term and long-term goals, it's our hope that they'll see the light at the end of the tunnel and work harder to reach it," said Associate Dean for Freshmen Studies and Academic Advisement Sarah Holloway. "We are proving that the simple act of selecting a major can have a tremendous impact on whether a student will stay at college and graduate."

Second year students are then encouraged to take SFC 2001 Managing Your Future, a life lessons course that gives students practical advice on things like how to search for a job or graduate school, how to prepare for an interview, and how to make and keep connections with successful graduates of St. Francis.

These two courses are just part of a comprehensive program that includes career counseling, alumni mentors and career fairs.

"It's important that the students who come to St. Francis know we are more than just Professors and classrooms," said Director of Admissions John McAuliffe. "We want all our students to not only leave St. Francis with a college degree, but also with a strong idea about the next step in their lives, whether it's graduate school, the work force or any of a number of other possibilities."

The Educational Policy Institute (EPI) seeks to expand educational opportunity for low-income and other historically-underrepresented students through high-level research and analysis. By providing educational leaders and policymakers with the information required to make prudent programmatic and policy decisions, EPI believes that the doors of opportunity can be further opened for all students, resulting in an increase in the number of students prepared for, enrolled in, and completing postsecondary education.

Noel-Levitz is a consulting company that has worked with campuses and systems throughout North America, helping them reach and exceed their enrollment goals.

St. Francis College, founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, is located in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. Since its founding, the College has pursued its Franciscan mission to provide an affordable, high-quality education to students from New York City's five boroughs and beyond.
St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201

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