Raising the Graduation Rates of Low-Income College Students

Lana Muraskin
December 1, 2004

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1
INTRODUCTION 7
STUDY DESIGN 11
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT
INSTITUTIONAL FACTORS
AND COLLEGE PERSISTENCE? 17
A COMPARISON OF INSTITUTIONS WITH
HIGH AND LOW GRADUATION RATES 25
COMMONALITIES AMONG THE ?HIGH
GRADUATION RATE? INSTITUTIONS 33
CONCLUSION 47
REFERENCES 49
ENDNOTES 57
APPENDICES 59
TABLE OF CONTENTS

3
1
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
As a group, colleges that serve large percentages
of low-income students have lower
graduation rates than other colleges. However,
among the colleges that serve lowincome
students there is also considerable
variation in graduation rates, differences that suggest a
strategy for studying and improving college outcomes. This
report presents the findings of a study designed by the Pell
Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education to
identify the institutional characteristics, practices, and policies
that might account for differences in retention and graduation
rates among colleges and universities that serve high
concentrations of low-income students. Lumina Foundation
for Education supported the study in an effort to learn and
share effective practices for fostering student success.
This research is a preliminary inquiry intended to
provide the groundwork for further efforts to identify the
institutional policies and programs that contribute to student
retention. Most studies observe retention efforts at individual
institutions. By including 10 high graduation rate (HGR)
colleges in the research, we have generated a more complete
look at the factors in retention than has been previously
available.
STUDY DESIGN
To conduct the study, we sought to identify 20 four-year
institutions with large shares of low-income students,
10 with higher than average graduation rates (HGRs)
and 10 with lower than average graduation rates (LGRs).
Two key issues in site selection were determining which
institutions serve large percentages of low-income students,
and identifying graduation rates for these and other institutions.
To estimate the portion of low-income students enrolled
in each institution, we determined the percentage of students
receiving a Pell Grant, the federal program that awards grant
aid to low-income, undergraduate students pursuing a degree
and attending at least half-time. We used data supplied from
various offices of the U.S. Department of Education, including
data on Pell Grant recipients per school from the Office
of Postsecondary Education, and enrollment data from the
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Integrated
Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).
The information on graduation rates came from the 1999
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Graduation
Rates Report, which determines institutional graduation
rates by calculating the percentage of undergraduates who

Among the
colleges that
serve low-income
students there is
also considerable
variation in
graduation rates,
differences that
suggest a strategy
for studying and
improving college
outcomes.

HGR institutions
have more fulltime
faculty,
lower student/
faculty ratios,
some graduate
offerings, and,
most importantly,
far greater
resources for their
education than
LGR institutions.

2
enroll full-time at the outset and subsequently graduate with
a baccalaureate degree from the same institution within six
years.
SITE SELECTION
Once the universe was established, colleges and
universities with a high proportion of Pell Grant
recipients were assigned to a high or low group
based on their graduation rates. Public and private institutions
were compared separately, which resulted in four
institutional categories:| Private/highest graduation rates| Private/lowest graduation rates| Public/highest graduation rates| Public/lowest graduation rates1
Five considerations determined whether an institution
was included: 1) at or near the top of the ranking in its group;
2) agreed to participate in the study; 3) geographic distribution
? we did not want to select all the institutions from the
South, where many colleges and universities with the highest
percentages of low-income students are located; 4) enrollment
size ? included institutions of different size and
different missions; and 5) mix of students by race/ethnicity ?
we sought a mix of Historically Black Colleges and Universities
(HBCUs) and non-HBCUs, as many of the institutions
with the highest percentages of Pell Grant recipients are
HBCUs.
Once we identified the colleges and universities and
received permission to visit them, we collected quantitative
and qualitative data about each institution. We made site
visits of 2 to 2.5 days to 19 of the 20 institutions. During the
visits, we collected additional descriptive information on a
range of policies and practices. We also interviewed faculty,
staff and students, asking them about the factors contributing
to institutional performance in retaining and graduating
students.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN HGRS AND LGRS
There are important systematic differences in student
body and resources between the HGR and LGR
institutions in the study, differences that likely play a
major role in explaining their differing graduation rates. They
are more likely to draw students of ?traditional? college age
(i.e., recent high school graduates). Limited data on prior
performance suggests that students at HGR institutions may
also have better academic preparation for college. HGR
institutions have more full-time faculty, lower student/faculty
ratios, some graduate offerings, and, most importantly, far
greater resources for their education than LGR institutions.
Ironically, the students at high-cost HGR institutions
probably pay no more out of pocket for education than do the
LGR institutions because the HGR institutions with high
tuition also offer larger institutional subsidies to more students.
These findings also suggest that the LGR institutions in
this study face extraordinary challenges in providing education,
let alone retaining and graduating students. These
institutions are spending much less than average to serve a
population with much greater than average academic need.
Given their resources and student bodies it is quite possible
that the LGR institutions are performing relatively well in
retaining and graduating students, even at the low absolute
levels that led to their inclusion in the study. Unfortunately,
we were unable to address this issue ? performance relative
to student body and resources ? with the data at hand.
COMMON PRACTICES AT HGR INSTITUTIONS
The HGR institutions in the study are a diverse group of
four-year colleges and universities, ranging from a large
land-grant state university with 12,500 undergraduates
and modest selectivity, to a rural private university with
1,400 undergraduates that is relatively selective, to a private,
religiously-oriented Historically Black college with 800
students.

Much of the
difference in
student outcomes
may be due to
factors so basic
that they are
hardly amenable
to ?tweaking?
institutional
policies or
practices.

3
We have identified common elements among the HGR
institutions that may help to explain their performance. Not
every institution demonstrated each element, nor is there
evidence that these elements are directly responsible for the
graduation rates we observed. Without a controlled experiment,
it is not possible to say that these elements explain the
higher graduation rates we observed. Nevertheless, commonalities
among the institutions include:
? Intentional academic planning: through intrusive
advising, freshman orientation courses, and
academic reviews for students in trouble, the
institutions make sure that students pursue a wellstructured
academic program;
? Small classes: most classes, even those for freshmen,
are small, giving students opportunity for
recognition and class discussion;
? Special programs: many students, especially those at
academic risk, participate in programs that provide
advising and academic support, and give them a
greater sense of belonging on campus;
? A dedicated faculty: most faculty members teach
full-time and are easily accessible to students;
? Educational innovation: these institutions have
courses to ease freshman entrance and help
students adjust to college life, and offer a wealth of
academic support through tutoring, group study,
supplemental instruction, and mastery classes;
? Developmental education: although formal
developmental offerings are fading, they were
active at most of these institutions at the time
they were selected;
? Geographic isolation: most of the institutions are in
rural areas or small cities, making campus life and
work on campus the center of the students? lives;
? Residential life: half the institutions require freshmen
to live on campus.
? Shared values: at many of the colleges, students
share rural and small-town backgrounds, some share
a religious orientation, and in some schools the
faculty reflects similar backgrounds;
? Modest selectivity: institutions do not intentionally
attract students from low-income families but they
do seek students likely to graduate, setting modest
but important admissions requirements ? at least a
C average in high school and decent SAT/ACT
scores.
? Financial aid for high achievers: the institutions use
state and institutional merit-based aid to attract
high-performing students; and
? Retention policy: the colleges are explicitly concerned
with retention and graduation rates, and
several have set ambitious goals well beyond current
performance.
CONCLUSION
Among the institutions serving large shares of lowincome
students there are widely differing graduation
rates. We have seen, however, that among
those institutions, much of the difference in student outcomes
may be due to factors so basic that they are hardly
amenable to ?tweaking? institutional policies or practices.
They may require, at least in public institutions, systematic
consideration at the state level. These factors include prior

Often, the
institutions facing
the greatest
challenges ?
lower prior
student
performance,
older and parttime
students, etc.
? also have the
least resources to
address those
challenges.

4
student performance, available institutional resources, and
items that are directly affected by resources such as levels of
full-time faculty. In this study, we also see that the LGR
institutions serve a population that is, on average, older and
more likely to be enrolled in college part time, factors that
are independently associated with lower rates of graduation
in other studies. Often, the institutions facing the greatest
challenges ? lower prior student performance, older and
part-time students, etc. ? also have the least resources to
address those challenges.
The opportunity to look across 10 institutions with large
shares of low-income students but higher than average
graduation rates and the identification of common policies
and practices among some or most of these institutions
provided some interesting results. We found, for example,
that many of the HGR institutions have or had developmental
or remedial programs that enrolled large shares of freshmen.
While increasing numbers of states are eliminating
developmental education from four-year institutions, it
remains to be seen how this will affect enrollments and
graduation rates of low-income students.
Another intriguing finding is that many of the HGR
institutions are located in small towns or rural areas (or small
towns in the middle of rural areas) and that their student
bodies are relatively homogeneous from a cultural standpoint.
This finding suggests that they may have a comparative
advantage in building the kinds of group cohesion and social
attachment to the institution that many have argued are
critical to student persistence.
Because we made only brief visits to each of the institutions,
there were fairly severe constraints on what we were
able to see and record. There may be other important
commonalities ? or combinations of factors ? that were
simply overlooked or go well beyond what we could observe
in a short period of time. For example, we have reported on
discrete factors that we observed, but success may be due to a
combination of those factors or conditions. It may be that it
is not enough to have a caring faculty if an institution does
not also have leadership, faculty, and staff that share a vision
of the institution?s purposes or goals. It may not be enough to
have sufficient resources if an institution does not have an
active advising system that directs new students to courses
that sufficiently structure their initial educational experience.

7
INTRODUCTION
As a group, colleges that serve large percentages
of low-income students tend to have
lower graduation rates than other colleges.
However, among the colleges that serve lowincome
students there is also considerable
variation in graduation rates, differences that suggest a
strategy for studying and improving college outcomes. One
potential means to identify successful retention and graduation
strategies is to study the differences in institutional
characteristics, policies, and practices among low-income
serving institutions with higher and lower graduation rates,
practices that may help explain their differential performance.
The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in
Higher Education designed this study to explore this approach
to retention research and begin to identify the
institutional practices and policies at four-year colleges and
universities that might account for differences in retention
and graduation rates among colleges and universities that
serve high concentrations of low-income students. Lumina
Foundation for Education supported the study in an effort to
learn and share effective practices for fostering student
success.
This report presents the findings of the study. It begins
with a brief description of inequities in college retention. It
then describes the design of the study, explaining how the
institutions were selected for participation and the information
that was collected. This section of the report provides a
brief profile of institutions that serve large shares of lowincome
students. Following the design discussion is a summary
of the literature on institutional practices that affect
retention. The findings of the study are presented in two
parts ? first, a comparison of institutions with relatively high
and relatively low graduation rates and, second, a description
of the common elements among the institutions with
relatively high graduation rates. The conclusion summarizes
what we have learned that may be applied more widely. We
hope the results of this study will be of use to institutions as
they try to improve the educational success of all students,
especially those at risk of not completing their education.
Inequities in College Retention
Despite the current mix of public and private subsidies,
students from low-income families do not enter college at the
same rate as more affluent students. Academic, cultural, or
financial factors limit low-income students? educational

Despite the
current mix of
public and private
subsidies,
students from
low-income
families do not
enter college at
the same rate as
more affluent
students.

$70,000 or greater
$45,000?69,999
$25,000?44,999
Less than $25,000
Asian/Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Black, non-Hispanic
White, non-Hispanic
Figure 1. Rate of Permanent Postsecondary Education Departure for
Students Who Begin at a Four-Year Institution
After first year After second year After third year After fourth year or later
8
opportunities. Students from low-income families are less
likely to receive high quality K-12 education because they are
more likely to attend schools with limited resources. An
inferior K-12 education may, in turn, limit their college
choices and financial aid opportunities. In addition, these
students may not receive the same
information and encouragement to
attend college from families,
teachers and counselors as do their
more advantaged peers. Even with
encouragement and financial help,
however, many students from lowincome
families cannot afford to
lose the income they must forego
to attend college.
Even when they attend
college, low-income students
remain at a disadvantage. Lowincome
students leave without
degrees at higher rates than their
wealthier peers (Figure 1). If
affluent students leave college,
they do so at a later stage in their
education than do students from
lower income families. Students
from low-income families appear
to face more problems and are
more sensitive to the costs of
college than are students from
wealthier families.
In some ways, leaving college
before graduating is a greater liability than never having
attended. The majority of research on the economic returns
from college suggests that the earning power of a student who
does not complete college is roughly equivalent to that of a
high school graduate (Barton, 2002). In addition, the noncompleting
student has likely foregone income to attend
college, and may be burdened with a loan payment that will
reduce his or her income even further.
As already noted, previous research has shown that there
are considerable differences in graduation rates among
institutions. Mortenson (1997) used the average ACT/SAT
scores of entering classes to predict an institution?s graduation
rate and compare it with the institution?s actual graduation
rate. He found considerable
variations from the predicted
graduation rate for many schools
? some institutions with highperforming
students have much
poorer than expected graduation
rates, while others with academically
at-risk students showed
graduation rates well above
expectations. Clearly, factors other
than student academic ability
influence retention and graduation.
As states and federal agencies
have demanded more accountability
from colleges and universities,
persistence and graduation rates
have received more attention. A
variety of programs have been
created to try and increase both
college access and completion.
College access programs now start
as early as middle school, offering
knowledge and encouragement
about college, academic support,
and help in making the transition
to college (e.g. applying, securing
financial aid, and settling in). Many colleges have also
adopted pre-college ?bridge? or orientation programs during
the summer before freshman year that allow new students to
learn about the campus, get a head start on registering for
classes, and, in some cases, improve their basic skills or get a
few credits under their belts.
State and federal governments and institutions have
invested in these pre-college programs, especially for low-
0 5 10 15 20 25
Percent Departure
Source: Berkner, Lutz, He, Shirley, and Cataldi, Emily Forest (2002). Descriptive Summary of the 1995-96 Beginning
Postsecondary Students: Six Years Later. U.S. Department of Education, NCES 2003-151.
1 2 2 3
2 2 1 5
5 3 2 5
4 3 3 5
1 1 3 6
4 5 3 5
5 6 5 6
3 2 2 4
Race/Ethnicity
Income

It is the efforts of
the institution as
a whole that
affect the degree
to which lowincome
? and
all ? students
persist and
graduate.

9
income and minority students. The Federal TRIO Talent
Search and Upward Bound programs provide academic and
social support to low-income and first-generation middle and
high school students.2 The Federal GEAR UP program
provides encouragement and the potential for financial aid to
middle and high school students in schools with large shares
of low-income students. In addition, state and institutional
opportunity programs aimed at attracting and retaining
minority students often provide similar academic and social
services. State higher education opportunity programs and
federal programs sponsored by the National Science Foundation,
the U.S. Department of Energy and others provide
funding for pre-enrollment programs.
Once students reach college age, financial aid is an
important component of educational opportunity. Not
having enough money to attend college, or to stay in once
enrolled, is an important consideration for low-income
students. A number of programs provide student aid to lowincome
students. The Federal Pell Grant program is the best
known, but numerous state, institutional and private programs
provide aid to low-income students. Subsidized loan
programs are also a critical component.
For students enrolled in college, programs aimed at
improving retention are increasingly available. Some precollege
programs continue to provide assistance to students
once enrolled. In addition, there are many federal, state and
institutional programs that supplement instruction with
academic support, including additional instruction, study
groups, writing centers, learning centers, labs, workshops on
study and test taking skills, and similar support. Services
often include more extensive advising and counseling than
may be otherwise available. Institutions provide a wide array
of special programs to help bring students together, especially
students who share interests or backgrounds. These
include ethnic/racial affinity programs, special housing
programs, freshman interest groups, or other special programs.
Two of the Federal TRIO programs also support lowincome
undergraduates: 1) Student Support Services (SSS)
program, which offers a wide range of academic and social
support to participants from low-income and first-generation
families, as well as students with disabilities; and 2) the
Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalauerate Achievement Program,
which offers eligible students opportunities for
research experience and encourages them to attend graduate
school.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it is the efforts of
the institution as a whole that affect the degree to which
low-income ? and all ? students persist and graduate.
Many institutions have re-designed instructional programs
to ensure that their offerings integrate students into the
campus, both academically and socially. Structured freshman
year experiences that organize course-taking and social
interactions, learning communities that offer intellectually
linked courses, and team approaches to instruction ? are all
efforts to make the college experience more engaging and
satisfying to students.
This study focuses on the full range of institutional
activities that may affect student outcomes, especially
retention and completion. By identifying and studying
institutions that appear particularly successful at retaining
and graduating students, we hope to better understand how
both the programs that are specifically designed to address
retention, as well as overall institutional practice and policy
work to affect student outcomes.

Pell Grant
recipients are
more likely than
other students to
leave college
prior to
graduation, but
the reasons may
be unrelated to
finances.

11
STUDY DESIGN
To conduct the study, we sought to identify 20
four-year institutions with large shares of lowincome
students, 10 with higher than average
graduation rates and 10 with lower than average
graduation rates. We then compared them using
widely available institutional data and visited each of the
institutions.
Selecting the Institutions
The first step in selecting the institutions to study was to
identify the universe from which they would be drawn. Two
key issues in site selection were determining which four-year
institutions serve large percentages of low-income students,
and identifying graduation rates for these and other
institutions.
Percentage of low-income students
To estimate the portion of low-income students enrolled
in each institution, we determined the percentage of students
receiving a Pell Grant. The Federal Pell Grant Program
awards grant aid to low-income students. Eligible students ?
defined as undergraduate students pursuing a degree and
attending at least half-time ? receive grant awards up to an
annual maximum award of $4,050, based on their family
income, cost of attendance, and other factors. In 1999-2000,
the median income of Pell Grant recipients was $15,098; over
80 percent of aid applicants with income of less than $10,000
received a Pell Grant (King, 2003).
Previous research (Lee, 1998) indicated that Pell Grant
recipients are more likely than other students to leave college
prior to graduation, but the reasons may be unrelated to
finances. Pell Grant recipients are probably more likely than
higher income undergraduates to have financial problems
that can cause them to leave school, but they are also more
likely to have non-financial risk factors. These factors include
being financially independent, being a single parent, delaying
enrollment after high school, having inadequate academic
preparation, having extensive family obligations, and lacking
experience with the college environment.
To identify four-year institutions with large percentages
of low-income students, we used data supplied from various
offices of the U.S. Department of Education. Data on Pell
Grant recipients per school for 1998-99 (the most recent year
for which data were available) were obtained from the U.S.
Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education.
Comparable enrollment data came from the Department?s
12
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Integrated
Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) for the
academic year 1998-99. The full-time equivalent (FTE)
enrollment estimate ? which calculates
three part-time students as
equaling one full-time student ? was
used because some students attending
less than full-time may receive a Pell
Grant.3 The combination of data from
these sources provides a measure of the
relationship between the share of
undergraduates receiving a Pell Grant
and institutional graduation rates.
To determine whether the share of
students receiving a Pell Grant was a
stable indicator from which to select
institutions for further study, we
calculated the percentage of undergraduates
at an institution receiving a
Pell Grant using data from two consecutive
years. Institutional percentages
did not change appreciably between the
two years and we were satisfied that
inter-year results did not vary significantly.
The stability in measures may
not extend to graduation rates, however.
Some of the colleges with large
shares of Pell Grant recipients have small enrollments that
may result in volatile graduation rate changes between years.4
A more rigorous study with more precise data would probably
lead to the same general conclusions, but the results for
specific institutions might change.
Graduation rates
This study uses data from the graduation rates survey of
the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA),
which determines institutional graduation rates by calculating
the percentage of undergraduates who enroll full time at
the outset (most frequently called first-time, full-time
freshmen) and subsequently graduate with a baccalaureate
degree from the same institution within six years. The
information on graduation rates used in this report came from
the 1999 NCAA Graduation Rates
Report, which analyzed the portion of the
freshman cohort entering college in 1992
that graduated by 1998. (For example, if
100 students entered an institution in
1992 and 60 graduated by 1998, the
graduation rate would be 60 percent.)
The NCAA graduation rates data set
is one of the few that includes systematic
institutional data on six-year graduation
rates for first-time, full-time freshmen.
There are limitations to this data though.
First, the NCAA report does not include
all four-year colleges and universities,
only those participating in NCAA
sanctioned sports programs. As a result,
only 27 percent of all private colleges and
64 percent of all public colleges report
graduation rates to the NCAA (see
Tables 1 and 2 for further details on the
share of schools reporting). Second, this is
a freshman-based rate; transfer students are
not included.
Determining graduation rates for low-income students
Table 3 shows the distribution of private and public
colleges divided into quintiles defined by the share of their
undergraduates that receives a Pell Grant. In both public and
private institutions, graduation rates decline as the share of
FTE undergraduates with a Pell Grant increases:
? In the quintile of private institutions with the lowest
share of Pell Grant recipients (an average of 10
percent), the average six-year institutional graduation
rate is 77 percent.
? In the quintile of private institutions with the
Table 1: Number and Percentage of Four-Year Institutions
Reporting Graduation Rates to NCAA, 19995
College IPEDS NCAA Reporting NCAA as a Percent of
Control Four-Year Institutions IPEDS Universe
Universe
Public 686 442 64%
Private 2,009 549 27%
Total 2,695 991 37%
Table 2: Median FTE per Institution, 1999
College IPEDS NCAA Reporting
Control Four-Year Institutions
Universe
Public 4,693 7,250
Private 873 1,825
Sources: 1999 NCAA Division I, II, and III Graduation Reports, U.S. Department of
Education?s Office of Postsecondary Education, and National Center for Education
Statistics, IPEDS.
13
highest share of Pell
Grant recipients (an
average of 49 percent),
the average six-year
graduation rate is only 41
percent.
? Among the public
institutions (which enroll
far greater percentages of
Pell Grant recipients),
disparities in graduation
rates are slightly smaller,
but still substantial. The
quintile of institutions
with the lowest share of
Pell Grant recipients (an
average of 16 percent) has
an average graduation
rate of 57 percent.
? The quintile of public
institutions with the
highest share of Pell
Grant recipients (an
average of 58 percent) has
an average graduation
rate of only 30 percent ?
quite low in relation to
national averages for
public institutions, 43
percent.
As shown in Table 4, both the
share of the student body receiving
a Pell Grant and the graduation
rates themselves differ by Carnegie classification6
(research, doctoral, master, bachelors/specialized) and control
(public, private).
? In all cases, public institutions
have higher percentages
of Pell Grant recipients
and lower graduation rates
compared with private
institutions.
? Research institutions have
the lowest percentages of
Pell Grant recipients and the
highest graduation rates.
? Bachelors/specialized
colleges have the highest
percentages of Pell Grant
recipients and the lowest
graduation rates.
? Combining the two indicators
(control and Carnegie
classification), private
research universities have
the smallest shares of Pell
Grant recipients and the
highest graduation rates.
Public baccalaureate and
specialized institutions have
the highest shares of Pell
Grant recipients and the
lowest graduation rates.
These results suggest that a
relationship exists between the
enrollment of low-income
undergraduates, as measured by
the share receiving a Pell Grant,
and an institution?s graduation
rate. The statistical relationship is not inevitable, however.
The instances of institutions with high proportions of Pell
Grant recipients and higher than average graduation rates
provide evidence that it is possible to beat the averages. The
tables on the next page show the range of the high and low
Table 3: Baccalaureate Graduation Rates for Private and Public Institutions
by Percent of FTE Students Receiving a Pell Grant in Quintiles
Percent of Private (N=547) Public (N=432)
FTE Students
Receiving a Mean Percent Mean Percent Mean Percent Mean Percent
Pell Grant (in FTE Receiving Graduating in FTE Receiving Graduating in
Descending Order) Pell Grant 1998 Pell Grant 1998
First quintile 49 41 58 30
Second quintile 29 51 38 39
Third quintile 23 56 30 42
Fourth quintile 17 63 25 49
Fifth quintile 10 77 16 57
Table 4: Baccalaureate Graduation Rates and Percent Pell Grant Recipients
for Private and Public Institutions by Carnegie Classification
Private (N=546) Public (N=430)
Institutional Mean Percent Mean Percent Mean Percent Mean Percent
Carnegie FTE Receiving Graduating in FTE Receiving Graduating in
Classification Pell Grant 1998 Pell Grant 1998
Research 11 80 24 59
Doctoral 20 64 28 43
Master 24 53 36 39
BA/Specialized 29 57 42 36
Sources: 1999 NCAA Division I, II, and III Graduation Reports, U.S. Department of Education?s
Office of Postsecondary Education, and National Center for Education Statistics, IPEDS.
14
percentages of undergraduates with a Pell Grant and the
median for each quintile (Table 5) and institutional control
(Table 6).7
The next two tables show the range of graduation rates
by quintile (Table 7) and institutional Carnegie classification
and control (Table 8). Again, the median graduation rate is
shown.
Site Selection
Once the universe was established, four-year colleges and
universities with a high proportion of Pell Grant recipients
were assigned to a high or low group based on their graduation
rates. Public and private institutions were compared
separately, which resulted in four institutional categories:| Private/highest graduation rates| Private/lowest graduation rates| Public/highest graduation rates| Public/lowest graduation rates
Table 5: Percent of Undergraduates with Pell Grants by Institutional Quintile
Defined by Percent of FTE Receiving a Pell Grant
Percent of FTE Private Public
Students Receiving
a Pell Grant (in Median Highest Lowest Median Highest Lowest
Descending Order) % Pell % Pell % Pell % Pell % Pell % Pell
First Quintile 49 97 34 58 98 45
Second Quintile 29 34 26 38 44 34
Third Quintile 23 26 20 30 34 27
Fourth Quintile 17 20 14 25 27 21
Fifth Quintile 10 14 2 16 21 2
Table 6: Percent of Undergraduates Receiving Pell Grants by Institutional
Carnegie Classification and Control
Private Public
Institutional
Carnegie Median Highest Lowest Median Highest Lowest
Classification % Pell % Pell % Pell % Pell % Pell % Pell
Research 8 32 2 23 98 7
Doctoral 17 68 5 27 79 8
Master 23 93 5 33 89 10
BA/Specialized 26 97 3 41 97 10
Table 7: Graduation Rates by Institutional Quintile
Percent of FTE Private Public
Students Receiving
a Pell Grant (in Median % Highest % Lowest % Median % Highest % Lowest %
Descending Order) Graduation Graduation Graduation Graduation Graduation Graduation
First Quintile 41 99 6 28 57 6
Second Quintile 53 83 19 37 80 19
Third Quintile 58 86 23 40 82 17
Fourth Quintile 65 88 17 48 83 21
Fifth Quintile 78 97 37 60 92 20
Table 8: Graduation Rates by Institutional Carnegie Classification and Control
Private Public
Institutional
Carnegie Median % Highest % Lowest % Median % Highest % Lowest %
Classification Graduation Graduation Graduation Graduation Graduation Graduation
Research 83 97 45 61 92 30
Doctoral 66 94 46 40 89 9
Master 55 99 17 39 80 9
BA/Specialized 60 97 6 33 74 6
Sources: 1999 NCAA Division I, II, and III Graduation Reports, U.S. Department of Education?s Office of Postsecondary Education, and National Center for Education Statistics, IPEDS.
15
Table 9: Selected Institutions, By Control and Graduation Rate
High Graduation Rate, Private Graduation rate %
1. A1* 65
2. B1* 52
3. C1* (HBCU) 56
4. D1 (HBCU) 50
5. E1 55
6. F1* 56
7. G1* (HBCU) 49
8. H1 61
9. I1 43
Low Graduation Rate, Private Graduation rate %
1. A2* 6
2. B2 19
3. C2* (HBCU) 15
4. D2* (HBCU) 20
5. E2* 21
6. F2 14
7. G2 23
8. H2* 15
The four institutional groups are
shown in Table 9. Those marked with
an asterisk were included in the site
visits. The participating institutions are
not named to assure confidentiality. Not
all of the highest ranked institutions
were selected for site visits. Five
considerations determined whether an
institution was included:
? At or near the top of the
ranking in its group.
? Agreed to participate in the
study.
? Geographic distribution ? we
did not want to select all the
institutions from the South,
where many colleges and
universities with the highest
percentages of low-income
students are located.
? Enrollment size ? we included
institutions of different size and
different missions.
? Mix of students by race/
ethnicity ? we sought a mix of
Historically Black Colleges and
Universities (HBCUs) and
non-HBCUs, as many of the
institutions with the highest
percentages of Pell Grant
recipients are HBCUs.
One factor that might influence the institutional
graduation rate is the share of the student body that attends
school part-time. Part-time students take longer to graduate
than do those who attend full-time; thus, a college that
enrolled a high proportion of part-time students might report
a lower average graduation rate. Although only full-time
students are used for the cohort, these students may at some
point leave school and return in a part-time capacity. We
found only a small average variation in the share of undergraduates
enrolled part-time among the five institutional
quintiles for both public and private institutions.
Site Visits
Once we identified the colleges and universities and
received permission to visit them, we collected quantitative
and qualitative data about each institution. Data were
* Institutions selected for further analysis and site visits.
High Graduation Rate, Public Graduation rate %
1. A3* (HBCU) 49
2. B3 (HBCU) 47
3. C3* 43
4. D3* 41
5. E3* 41
6. F3* (HBCU) 45
7. G3 41
8. H3 43
Low Graduation Rate, Public Graduation rate %
1. A4* 6
2. B4 (HBCU) 9
3. C4* 9
4. D4 12
5. E4* 14
6. F4* 9
7. G4* 11
8. H4 18

In all cases,
public institutions
have higher
percentages of
Pell Grant
recipients and
lower graduation
rates compared
with private
institutions.

16
obtained from IPEDS, the Peterson?s Guide to Four-Year
Colleges, the US News and World Report guide to colleges, and
other sources. We made site visits of 2 to 2.5 days to 19 of the
20 institutions.8 Each site visit was conducted by a two-person
team. During the visits, we collected additional descriptive
information on a range of policies and practices. We also
interviewed faculty, staff and students, asking them about the
factors contributing to institutional performance in retaining
and graduating students. Site visitors completed a report using
a uniform outline as a site visit protocol (included in Appendix
A). Once the site visits were complete, a matrix of
findings allowing the comparison of qualitative data collected
was created. The matrix is included in Appendix B of this
report and is the basis for the analysis in sections 4 and 5.
It is important to keep in mind that these visits were brief
and sought information on a wide range of possible influences
on institutional performance. This research is a preliminary
inquiry intended to provide the groundwork for further efforts
to identify the institutional policies and programs that
contribute to student retention. Most studies observe retention
efforts at individual institutions. By including 10 high
graduation rate colleges in the research, we have generated a
more complete look at the factors in retention than has been
previously available.
We recognize, however, that there are substantial
limitations to this study. First, in selecting institutions, no
effort was made to control for institutional admissions
policies or prior student academic performance. Second,
other factors that could well account for differences in
institutional performance were not controlled ? including
institutional resources, location, religious affiliation, size,
percentage of students residing on campus, or percentage of
students attending full time. Third, we do not know whether
the overall graduation rates reported by the institutions also
apply to low-income students at those schools. The authors of
this study are now conducting an expanded study, including a
multivariate analysis of institutional and student characteristics
that might explain institutional performance. In selecting
institutions for in-depth examination, the new study will
control for prior academic performance (ACT/SAT) and may
also control for other student factors that are associated with
graduation rates and are systematically available.

This review
focuses on what is
known about how
institutions can
improve student
retention and
graduation.

17
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT INSTITUTIONAL FACTORS AND COLLEGE PERSISTENCE?
Much of the research on persistence in
postsecondary education concentrates on
the student characteristics that predict
success. High school GPA and SAT and
ACT scores have been identified as the
strongest retention predictors (Astin, Korn, and Green,
1987). Socioeconomic status, first- (or later) generation
college attendance, non-traditional characteristics, out-ofstate
residency, and race/ethnicity are also predictive factors
(Hoyt, 1999; Murtaugh, Burns, and Schuster, 1999; Somers,
1995b). Adelman?s (1999) recent study based on longitudinal
data finds that a rigorous high school curriculum is the
strongest predictor of postsecondary persistence and success.
Once in college, the level of a student?s social and academic
integration, along with his or her intent to complete college,
can affect decisions to stay in school (Tinto, 1993; Beil et al,
1999; Okun et al, 1996; Cabrera et al, 1992; and Pascarella
and Terenzini, 1991).
This review focuses on what is known about how institutions
can improve student retention and graduation. Tinto
suggests that researchers should ?direct our studies to forms of
practice so that we can better understand the impact of
practice on persistence and let the knowledge gained from
those studies inform our theories of persistence ... Too much
of our research has been blind to practice and its recent
innovations? (1998). Following Tinto?s suggestion, we
reviewed evaluations and other studies of instruction,
programs, and other campus factors that address five important
elements needed to complete college: academic skills,
financial support, academic direction, instruction and
academic support, and campus participation.
Academic Skills
Poor academic preparation is a significant factor in
leaving college. Students must have the basic reading,
writing, and math skills necessary to persist through more
challenging coursework and to graduate. There is considerable
evidence that students who enter college with poorer
high school records (as measured by GPA), and lower SAT or
ACT scores are more likely to leave before completing
college. A wide range of programs that address academic
deficiencies have been studied, including summer bridge and
developmental education programs.
Summer bridge programs
Typically, summer bridge programs take place during the

Studies of
summer bridge
programs are
almost unanimous
in showing
positive effects on
college retention.

summer between high school graduation and the fall semester
of a student?s first year. They have a strong curricular component,
developing basic skills and improving academic performance.
Bridge programs often include remedial or developmental
coursework for under-prepared students. They also
aim to make students comfortable in the college environment
through advising, social events, and other activities.
Studies of summer bridge programs are almost unanimous
in showing positive effects on college retention. Evaluations
of programs at Georgia State University (Gold, 1992),
University of California-San Diego (Buck, 1985), the
University of Maryland-College Park (Boyd, 1996), and
California State University (Garcia, 1991) all showed
enhanced retention through at least the first year of college.
Bridge students also become more involved in campus life
(Buck, 1985). A six-week summer bridge program for underrepresented
and low-income freshmen and transfers at UCLA
helped students to become part of a community, adjust to
college, and persist through their first two quarters
(Ackermann, 1990).
Developmental coursework
Developmental or remedial courses are designed to
provide students with the academic skills to succeed in
postsecondary education. Typical developmental offerings are
courses in math, English, and writing. In some institutions,
students must complete these courses before taking collegelevel
classes, while in other institutions students may enroll
in developmental and regular courses simultaneously.
Unlike summer bridge programs, the results of developmental
programs on retention are more mixed. Not surprisingly,
students who need extensive remediation have lower
retention and graduation rates (Hoyt, 1999; Haycock, 2000;
McDaniel, 2001; Windham, 1995). The negative effect is not
found, however, when students take remedial reading only
(Adelman, 1999). Furthermore, students who perceive
remedial courses as valuable are more likely to stay in school
(Garcia, 2000). Of course, most studies do not compare
students with comparable academic skills, some of whom take
developmental courses and some of whom do not. Such a
design might reveal more positive effects of remediation.
There is also some evidence to suggest that when developmental
education is linked with regular course-taking the
effects are more positive (see discussion of learning communities
below).
Financial Support
Like academic skills, having the money to pay for
education is a necessity for college completion. Low-income
students are at a disadvantage in attending college and, not
surprisingly, graduate at lower rates (Mortensen, 2001, Choy,
2002). Federal, state, institutional, and private financial
assistance programs are aimed at making college affordable
for low-income students so that they can complete their
education.
Overall aid effects
Studies conducted across four-year institutions are
inconclusive with respect to the effect of financial aid on
graduation (Braunstein, McGrath, and Pescatrice 2000).
Because of state and federal government changes in the
amount and types of aid packages, one recent study concluded
that the evidence concerning the effects of student
financial aid ?is mixed at best, and contradictory, at worst?
(Astin, 2001). The effects of aid may vary by institution type.
Hoyt (1999) found that aid has a positive impact on community
college students. A study using data from the 1996
NCES National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS)
showed that, at two-year colleges with higher tuition rates,
students with grants, loans, or work-study participation were
more likely to persist than those without such assistance
(Cofer and Somers, 2000). One study found that minority aid
recipients persist at higher rates than non-recipient counterparts,
especially when grants and loans are combined (Hu
and St. John, 2001). However, as the amount of need-based
aid decreases and tuition increases, overall persistence
declines (Hu and St. John, 2001).
18

Students with
clear academic
and career goals
are more likely
to persist than
those who have
not articulated
their goals.

19
Type of aid
The effects of aid often vary by type and amount. Grants,
scholarships, and work-study are more consistently related to
higher persistence; conversely, loans are more consistently
related to lower persistence (Blanchfield, 1971, 1972; Li and
Killian, 1999; Somers, 1995a). Work-study or other oncampus
work seems to produce positive effects more consistently
than other types of aid, most likely because students
become more involved and attached to the campus and its
staff (Adelman, 1999; DesJardins, Ahlburg, and McCall,
1999). Not every study shows this effect, however (McGrath
and Braunstein, 1997). For an institution seeking to increase
its overall retention rate, partial scholarships for a larger
number of applicants may be more effective than a small
number of large scholarships to attract as well as retain
academically strong students (Somers, 1995a, 1996).
Amount and timing of aid
A longitudinal study of college-leaving behavior found
that although students who receive financial aid generally
have higher completion rates than comparable students
without financial aid, results vary by the amount of aid and
by when the students receive it (Ishitani and DesJardins,
2002-2003). Overall, it appears that in each of the first three
years of college, the higher the amount of aid, the greater the
persistence. The beneficial effect of financial aid was actually
strongest in the third year, when the risk of dropping out was
93 to 99 percent lower for students who received assistance.
Institutional aid
Some studies suggest that institutional aid is less effective
in increasing retention and graduation than outside aid,
largely because the amounts provided are small (Somers,
1995a; Shields, 1994). Nonetheless, some studies find an
independent effect for campus-based aid (Nora, 1990).
Institutional aid can also have positive effects when the
student perceives the aid as a reward for personal achievement,
unlike need-based federal aid, which low-income
students expect to receive (Astin, 2001).
Perceptions of the role of financial aid
Like developmental education, attitudes and perceptions
of aid might be more important than the receipt of aid itself.
Persisters are more likely than non-persisters to report that
the financial aid office was helpful (Heverly, 1999). At an
urban, open-admission, commuter university, persistence of
students in developmental classes was predicted by perceptions
of difficulties in financing their education (Garcia,
2000). A study at an urban commuter university found that
attitudes associated with financial aid had significant total
effects on persistence. Satisfaction with financial support had
a direct effect on academic integration, which had an effect
on educational goal commitments. Students also felt a sense
of commitment to the institution that provided them with
financial aid (Cabrera et al, 1992).
Academic Direction
Students with clear academic and career goals are more
likely to persist than those who have not articulated their
goals. Early identification of a major is also related to retention
(Hagedorn, Maxwell, and Hampton, 2001-2002; Kim,
1996; Leppel, 2001). In this section, we explore what is
known about the effectiveness of college programs that help
students develop academic and career goals, select courses
and majors, and other similar efforts.
Freshman year structure
There are a variety of college programs that help students
adjust to college and select their courses and majors. These
programs range from highly structured freshman year programs
(directive advising, seminars, linked classes, study
groups, etc), or may be as brief as a one- or two-day orientation
program that helps students clarify their academic and
career plans. Evaluations of freshman year programs are
largely positive. Students who enroll in these programs show
greater persistence, higher GPAs, etc (Sidle and McReynolds,
1999; Williford, Chapman, and Kahrig, 2000-2001; Pascarella,
Terenzini, and Wolfle, 1986; Colton, Connor, Shultz, and
Easter, 1999; Simmons, Wallins, and George, 1995;

Freshman year
experience
programs do
appear to
positively affect
institutional
persistence.

20
Murtaugh, Burns, and Schuster, 1999; Martin and Hodum,
1994; Fidler and Moore, 1996; Muraskin, 1997). However,
students who enroll in voluntary programs may already be
more motivated or committed to college. Nevertheless, given
the consistency of evaluation findings, freshman year experience
programs do appear to positively affect institutional
persistence.
Advising and counseling
Advising and counseling by professionals and peers can
also help students develop their academic and career goals.
Counseling and encouragement help to foster clear, realistic
goals and commitment, and have been found to be significantly
related to retention (Seidman, 1991). While orientation
programs allow for interaction with other students,
advising allows for more personalized interaction with faculty
and staff.
Evidence on the effects of advising and counseling
services is weak, however. Most studies have focused on
student perceptions of advising or counseling, rather than on
the impact of the services themselves. Astin and his colleagues
(1987) found that students who left public institutions
had poor perceptions of advising and other services.
Carroll (1988) found that persisting students at a two-year
urban community college had positive perceptions of counselor
effectiveness. Non-returning students at a large eastern
public university were less satisfied with guidance counseling
than were returning students (Mohr, Eiche, and Sedlacek,
1998). Heverly (1999) also reported that persisting students
are more likely to find college advisors helpful. On the other
hand, the National Study of Student Support Services
(Chaney et al, 1997) found that greater hours of counseling/
advising were negatively associated with retention, probably
because the students having the greatest academic and
personal difficulty got the most counseling.
Mentoring programs
Mentoring programs link students with older peers,
faculty, administrators, or other professionals in one-on-one
relationships. They also help students develop career plans
and get to know faculty or peers. These programs usually
target students who are under-represented, either at the
institution or in a specific department, and who may need
extra encouragement and role models. Often under-represented
students ?unlike middle- and upper-class students, ...
lack the advantage of coming from a background where the
importance of attending college is emphasized from an early
age? (Tierney, 1999). Only a limited amount of information
on the impact of mentoring programs on college retention
exists. Much of the evidence is positive. (Campbell and
Campbell, 1996; Schwitzer and Thomas, 1998; Newton and
Wells-Glover, 1999). Because mentoring is almost always
voluntary, however, there is no way of knowing whether it
attracts students who are already motivated to stay in school
and graduate.
Overall support service use
According to Pascarella and Terinzini (1991), ?degree
completion may be a function of the extent to which an
institution provides supportive personnel services ... Students
who get the help and information they need may be more
likely to persist.? At a highly selective research institution,
non-persisting students reported less satisfaction with campus
support services and the standards of service than persisting
students (West and Michael, 1998). At a regional state
university, at-risk freshmen who received regular telephone
calls from faculty or student affairs staff had significantly
higher retention rates. Overall, outreach by phone contact
provided students with a caring, nurturing environment that
improved retention and grades (Volp, Hill, and Frazier,
1998). A study on the role of organizational attributes in
integration and persistence found that institutional communication,
fairness in enforcing policies and rules, and participation
in decision-making have a positive effect on facultypeer
relations, which in turn aid students? social integration,
commitment, and intent to stay (Berger and Braxton, 1998).

Participation in
the Learning
Community was a
significant
independent
predictor of
retention, even
after controlling
for student
characteristics.

21
Instruction and Academic Support
No matter how good the support services or financial aid,
the quality of instruction is a critical element in the college
experience, especially in building academic competence and
integration. A host of curricular reforms have been developed,
designed to foster a more intellectually cohesive
educational experience, enhance learning, and, ultimately,
increase retention and graduation. Among these reforms are:
Freshman Interest Groups (FIG), Learning Communities
(LC), and Blocks or Clusters, all of which use group learning
approaches to enhance learning. In addition, academic
support programs that offer a ?home base? on campus and a
range of support services (supplemental instruction, group
study, mastery classes, workshops, etc.) target additional
academic support to at-risk or other groups of students. Once
again, though, because most of these programs are voluntary
there is no way of knowing whether more motivated students
are also more likely to participate.
Freshman Interest Groups (FIG)
FIGs bring together freshmen who share interests and
allow students to pursue those interests in a supportive
educational environment. FIGs can focus on academics, arts,
sports, or a wide range of other shared interests. Some FIGs
involve college classes, while others do not, and many are
located in residence halls. Evidence from several institutional
studies suggests that FIGs help to build a sense of community
among students or increase retention (Dale and Zych, 1996;
Tokuno and Campbell, 1992; Goodsell and Tinto, 1993).
Blocks or clusters
Blocks or clusters (also called ?block rostering?) are
course-scheduling methods in which students are grouped
together for two or more classes. Sometimes, they are grouped
for a freshman experience course and one or more other
courses. For example, the First Year Experience Program at
Northern Michigan University pairs a freshman seminar with
other classes in ?blocks.? Blocks may include other components
such as study groups that emphasize collaborative
learning among peers and foster communities of students.
Blocks may also involve collaborative relationships between
faculty who team-teach or otherwise coordinate several
classes. Sometimes, participating in a block also offers registration
and scheduling priority, and increased interaction with
faculty and advisors.
Studies of blocks and clusters show improved retention
rates for participants (Soldner, Lee, and Duby, 1999; Mangold
et al, 2002-2003). The benefits of clusters are perhaps greater
at larger, commuter institutions where students may not be on
campus for extended periods and developing relationships is
more difficult. At least one study of a small, private institution
with a high graduation rate showed no additional benefit from
clustering students (Crissman, 2001-2002).
Learning Communities
Learning communities are programs of linked courses. In
a learning community, students are not only block rostered,
but the linked courses are intellectually integrated as well.
Studies of these programs show higher retention rates of
students. For example, at the University of Southern Maine
? a commuter institution with a large number of part-time
and older students ? learning communities for at-risk
students retained significantly more students than less structured
retention programs, and surpassed the institution?s twoyear
persistence rate (White and Mosely, 1995). Students at a
metropolitan commuter university who were in a learning
community of three linked classes had higher fall-to-spring
retention than non-participating students, although the
difference was not significant (Baker and Pomerantz, 2000).
Tinto found that members of a learning community at Seattle
Central Community College reported significantly higher
levels of campus involvement, satisfaction, and personal,
social and academic development than other students.
Participation in the Learning Community was a significant
independent predictor of retention, even after controlling for
student characteristics (Tinto, 1997).

A national
evaluation
[of SSS] found
that students in
the program had
higher GPAs, took
more credits,
and had
higher retention
(through the third
year of college)
than comparison
groups.

22
Academic support programs
Colleges also offer a wide range of academic support
programs. Many are geared specifically to at-risk or underrepresented
populations. For example, Student Support
Services is a national TRIO program that provides counseling,
mentoring, and academic support services (tutoring,
group study, supplemental instruction, developmental
instruction, etc.) to low-income, first-generation students and
students with disabilities. A national evaluation found that
students in the program had higher GPAs, took more credits,
and had higher retention (through the third year of college)
than comparison groups (Chaney et al, 1997). An evaluation
of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program
(UROP) ? a home base program for minority freshmen and
sophomores at the University of Michigan ? found a
positive effect on retention. The program helps students form
relationships with faculty through workshops, presentations,
peer advising, mentoring, and interest groups. The program
creates a collaborative, academic and intellectual environment
between students and faculty, and constantly monitors
the effects on retention. This program had a significant
positive effect on retention for each racial/ethnic group, with
the strongest effect for low-achieving African-American
sophomores. Low GPA students participating in UROP had
higher persistence than a control group of low GPA students
(Nagda et al, 1998).
Classroom approaches
Curricular approaches and faculty performance appear to
be related to persistence (Braxton, Vesper, and Hossler, 1995;
Somers, 1995b; Tinto, 1997; Johnson, 1997). Several studies
comparing students who leave and those who graduate find
that students who stay report more positive interactions with
faculty (South Texas Community College, 1998; Heverly,
1999; Lundquist, Spalding, and Landrum, 2002-2003; Li and
Killian, 1999). Braxton et al, (2000) found that an active
learning approach through class discussion and higher-level
thinking activities had a significant effect on academic
integration, which in turn influenced students? ?intent to
stay? at the institution. Examples of effective classroom
activities identified in the study include ?the pause procedure,
short writes, think pair-share, formative quizzes, lecture
summaries and classroom assessment techniques.? Not every
study finds a strong association between faculty interaction
and persistence, however (Ruddock, Hanson, and Moss,
1999).
Positive effects may be enhanced by faculty characteristics.
At a Midwestern university, first-time, full-time freshmen
who did not return the next semester took a larger
proportion of their coursework from part-time faculty
members than did the freshman cohort as a whole
(Harrington and Schibik, 2001). At SUNY Binghamton, the
presence of women faculty in science, mathematics, and
computer sciences courses increased the likelihood of women
students returning (Robst, Keil, and Russo, 1998). For
women who took at least one-third of their classes in the
math or sciences, the percent of credit hours taught by
women was a positive predictor of one-year retention rates.
Campus Participation
Residence halls
Living on campus also helps to foster retention. The
positive effects likely occur through the opportunities for
social integration that residence halls afford (Mallinckrodt
and Sedlacek, 1987; Skahill, 2002-2003; St. John, Musoba,
and Simmons, 2001). Residence hall living also has positive
effects on graduation (Astin, 2001; Fidler and Moore, 1996).
The influence of campus residency can vary by student type.
At North Carolina State University, on-campus residency
predicted persistence for African-American students only
(Kim, 1996). At the University of Maryland, campus residence
had significant effects on both persistence and graduation
for white and African-American students (Gallicki and
McEwen, 1989). At institutions with high overall retention
rates, the effects of residence halls appear to be lower or not
significant (McGrath and Braunstein, 1997; Crissman, 2001-
2002; Kanoy and Bruhn, 1996).

Finances were
more of an issue
for older students
than their
academic
performance.

23
Retaining commuter students
Because they do not live on campus, commuter students
face a greater challenge in becoming integrated or attached
to the institutions they attend. In addition to the factors
already cited (academic interventions, counseling/advising,
mentoring, etc.), there is some evidence that a welcoming
environment can affect retention and graduation for both
residential and commuting students.
Use of campus facilities may have an independent effect
on retention. At the University of Maryland, hours spent on
campus studying, conducting research, and in the campus
library were connected to retention of second semester
freshmen. Specific uses of the student union (but not overall
hours) were also related to retention. Non-academic activities
such as attending a dance or concert in the student
union, eating at the campus dining hall, and working as a
campus employee also influenced retention. For African-
American students, studying in the library, working out at the
campus gym, and participating in student union sponsored
trips were related to retention (Mallinckrodt and Sedlacek,
1987).
Campus flexibility for non-traditional students
The retention issues for older and returning students may
differ from those of younger students. Older, non-traditional
students at two-year institutions often work full time while
they are enrolled in college and have less time for social
activities; therefore, flexibility in college offerings may be
more important than fostering campus integration (Baker,
1996). Baker found that low-income, full-time workers leave
college at higher rates. Part-time work did not seem to have
as much of an impact. Baker (1996) also found that finances
were more of an issue for older students than their academic
performance. For students over the age of 23 at two-year
colleges, persistence was negatively influenced by tuition
charges to a greater degree than for younger students
(Hippensteel, St. John, and Starkey, 1996).
Non-traditional students enrolled in the College of
Business Administration at a metropolitan commuter
university cited work conflicts and loss of income, not
academic problems, as reasons for leaving (Tom, 1999). Work
conflicts led to a lack of participation in extracurricular
activities, as well as problems in scheduling classes. The study
cited the lack of social integration and a lack of funds as
factors contributing to their decisions to leave. The students
needed to work to afford college, which left them little time
to participate outside the classroom. The majority said they
had stopped out rather than leaving permanently ? 43
percent planned on returning, and 47 percent had already
interrupted their education.
Summary
In addition to the student characteristics that predict
college graduation, there are a variety of institutional
programs and approaches that appear to have positive effects.
These include summer bridge programs prior to freshman
year, freshman year experience programs, freshman interest
groups, block rostering of students, learning communities,
and other academic support programs. There is evidence that
grant aid and work-study are also associated with higher
retention and graduation. Because students who participate
in some programs at high levels are likely to be the ones most
at risk, there is less evidence about the positive effects of
counseling and developmental education. Studies with an
experimental component would be needed to understand the
impacts of these offerings. Living on campus is positively
associated with retention but use of campus facilities may
increase retention for commuter students. Older or returning
students can benefit from flexible academic scheduling.

The HGR
institutions have
full-/part-time
enrollment
patterns that
differ
substantially from
the LGRs.

25
A COMPARISON OF INSTITUTIONS WITH HIGH AND LOW GRADUATION RATES
As described in the study design, we first
identified institutions for inclusion based
upon their relatively high percentages of Pell
Grant recipients. We then selected from
among those institutions two groups for
study: those with the highest and lowest six-year graduation
rates.9 We have compared the two groups using indicators
available from national data sets to identify any systematic
differences between the groups that might help to explain
their differing student performance. This section reports on
the results of that comparison, using indicators of student
enrollment, faculty characteristics, institutional resources and
expenditures, and prior student performance. It should be
noted that, while some of these data have been obtained from
highly reliable national education data sets, such as IPEDS,
others are institutionally self-reported to guidebooks for
college applicants and may be less reliable. In the discussion
and tables that follow, we indicate the source of each data
element as we consider its implications.
Enrollment Differences
The high graduation rate (HGR) institutions have full-/
part-time enrollment patterns that differ substantially from
the low graduation rate (LGR) institutions. The HGR
institutions are more likely than the LGR institutions to
enroll undergraduate students on a full-time basis (Table 10).
Of the 10 HGR schools, eight have full-time enrollments
above 72 percent ? the national average for four-year
institutions. None of the 10 institutions has a full-time
enrollment rate below 67 percent. In comparison, among the
LGR institutions, only four of 9 institutions have full-time
enrollment rates above the national average and five have
full-time enrollment rates below 67 percent.
Although this study did not conduct such an analysis,
these substantial differences in enrollment patterns may help
to explain the differences in student retention and graduation.
Part-time enrollment may reflect less of a commitment
to higher education, with students reluctant to invest their
full effort or time. At the least, part-time students will take
longer to graduate and, if they are low-income, are likely to
exhaust financial aid before completing college. In national
studies using longitudinal student data, full-time enrollment
is strongly associated with college completion. Among the
HGR schools in this study, high rates of full-time enrollment,
compared to national full-time enrollment rates, may also
26
help to offset the institutional
graduation disadvantage associated
with a large share of low-income
students.
It is impossible to know how
the higher full-time enrollment
rates in HGR institutions came
about. Did these institutions
establish policies that largely
demanded full-time enrollment or
did they somehow attract students
committed to college full time
because of other factors ? such as
recruitment efforts, location, or
offerings? We do know that the
HGR institutions in the study
appear more likely to attract
entrants of ?traditional? college
age, and traditional-age students
are more likely than others to
enroll full time:
? In six of the 10 HGR
institutions, 80 percent or
more of the undergraduate
students are 24 years of
age or younger (see Table
10).
? Only one of the eight
LGR institutions for
which age data are
available has more than
80 percent of its under
graduates in the ?traditional?
age range.
These data suggest that the
LGR and HGR institutions may be
qualitatively different in other
ways as well, with LGR institutions
attracting students who may
have enrolled for many years
without completing, are returning to
higher education after enrollment
sometime in the past, or are starting
higher education at a later age. It is
possible that at least some of the
LGR institutions are ?second
chance? institutions, with enrollments
not unlike those of community
colleges.10
The HGR institutions are also
larger institutions, on average, than
the LGR colleges (see Table 10):
? Combined, the HGR
institutions have an
average head count
undergraduate enrollment
of 4,222, compared with an
average head count
enrollment of 2,973 at the
LGR institutions.
? The HGR institutions are
also more likely to offer
graduate education and
enroll graduate students
(see Table 10). Nine of
the 10 HGR institutions
enroll some graduate
students, and seven of the
nine enroll more than 100
graduate students. Four
enroll more than 1,000
graduate students.
? In contrast, only four of
the nine LGR institutions
enroll graduate students,
with three of the four
enrolling more than 100
Table 10: Undergraduate and Graduate Enrollment, HGR and LGR Institutions, Fall 2000
Undergraduate Undergraduate Undergraduate Graduate
Head Count Percent Full Percent 24 Years Head Count
Institution Enrollment Time of Age or More Enrollment
HGR (avg: 4,222)
Institutions
A 1,361 95 91 148
B 5,353 69 62 1,042
C 2,022 88 82 235
D 853 94 93 65
E 702 100 94 0
F 12,453 78 73 1,682
G 5,755 76 70 1,216
H 3,639 89 81 549
I 7,613 67 45 2,956
J 2,467 96 87 103
LGR (avg: 2,973)
Institutions
K 1,398 77 88 0
L 4,988 56 64 245
M 4,455 43 60 0
N 4,614 51 41 0
O 6,897 62 43 1,246
P 2,785 95 ? 0
Q 1,183 79 78 0
R 1,241 95 78 13
S 2,165 58 51 215
National 4,573 72 64 245
Average
Source: IPEDS, Fall 2000 institutional data.
27
but only one enrolling more than
1,000 graduate students.
In short, the full-/part-time enrollment
differences may also reflect differences
in broader institutional scope and
interests ? between smaller institutions
with few graduate offerings and larger
institutions with more graduate offerings.
Limited data from the Peterson?s
Guide to Four-Year Colleges suggest that
students at the HGR institutions may be
somewhat more academically advantaged
at entrance (Table 11). Institutions report
to Peterson?s Guide on the percentage of
their entering freshmen class that were
ranked in the ?top half? of their high
school graduating class.
? Among the nine HGR
institutions reporting, the
percentages of freshmen in
the top half of their high
school class ranged from 63 to
82 percent.
? Only four of nine LGR
institutions reported comparable
high school rank data,
and they indicated from 31 to
54 percent of entering
students were in the top half
of their high school class.
The limited data from the LGR
institutions may also reflect the older
average age of students ? older or
returning students may not report high
school class rank.
There are few systematic differences
between the HGR and LGR institutions
on other undergraduate student characteristics
available from our data sets:
? Both sets of institutions have
relatively high percentages of
minority students (see Table 11).
Each of the sets includes several
HBCUs. Minority enrollment
among the remaining
institutions in each group ranges
from 12 to 51 percent.11
? Both HGR and LGR institutions
appear to draw most of their
students from the states where
they are located. Although data
are limited, only three of eight
HGR institutions for which data
are available show out-of-state
enrollment rates above 20
percent. Similarly, only two of
six LGR institutions show rates
above 20 percent. Of the five
institutions with relatively high
rates of out-of-state enrollment,
three are HBCUs.
? Most of the institutions in the
study have higher female enrollments
than the national average,
although LGR institutions have
somewhat higher female enrollments
than HGR institutions.
Faculty Characteristics
HGR and LGR institutions have
substantially different faculty:
? The HGR institutions have
much larger percentages of fulltime
faculty (Table 12). In the
HGR institutions, nine employ
60 percent or more of their
Table 11: Student Characteristics at HGR and LGR Institutions, Fall 2000
Percent in Percent Percent Percent from
Top Half of Minority Female Out-of-State
Institution High School Class
HGR
Institutions
A 80 12 53 31
B 73 38* 66 1
C 70 78 63 12
D 73 94 70 72
E 63 100 49 42
F 81 51* 53 20
G 72 33* 42 14
H N/A 97 58 N/A
I 72 30 56 10
J 82 98 58 N/A
LGR
Institutions
K N/A 13* 64 13
L N/A 28 70 5
M N/A 47 65 2
N N/A 93 78 1
O 45 70 71 N/A
P N/A 95 N/A 38
Q 31 18 53 50
R 54 99 58 N/A
S 40 51 59 N/A
National N/A 29 56 26
Average
*More than 10 percent of students are of unknown race/ethnicity.
Sources: Class rank from Peterson?s Guide. Percent minority, female, and out-of-state from
IPEDS, Fall 2000 institutional data.
28
five of nine LGR institutions show studentto-
faculty ratios below 17 to 1.
The combination of high percentages of
full-time faculty and lower student-tofaculty
ratios suggest that the HGR institutions
may offer students smaller classes and
more opportunity to interact with faculty.
There are more FTE faculty available
overall at the HGR institutions and students
are more likely to attend classes
taught by faculty who are committed to the
institution for their livelihood. (As we shall
see in the later discussion of commonalities
among the HGR institutions, students and
faculty report that the opportunity for
interaction is a major factor in institutional
success.) Finally, there do not appear to be
systematic differences between HGR and
LGR institutions with respect to the
percentages of minority faculty when HBCU
status is taken into account (see Table 12).
The Cost of Education: Institutional
and Student Spending
Given the greater use of full-time
faculty and the lower number of students
per faculty member, it is not surprising to
find that the HGR institutions spend more
money per FTE student.12 What is surprising
is how much more they spend per FTE
undergraduate enrollment than the LGR
institutions (Table 13):
? Across the 10 HGR institutions,
total expenditures per FTE student
ranged from $12,400 to $35,800.
Only three institutions showed per-
FTE expenditures below $15,000
and four had expenditures above
$20,000.
Table 12: Faculty Characteristics, HGR and LGR Institutions, Fall 2000
Percent Student/Faculty Percent
Institution Full Time Ratio Minority
HGR
Institutions (average 80%) (average 15:1)
A 78% 13:1 1%
B 61 15:1 22
C 96 17:1 74
D N/A N/A N/A
E 100 16:1 67
F 96 17:1 15
G 38 23:1 18
H 96 16:1 72
I 64 28:1 11
J 90 10:1 81
LGR
Institutions (average 62%) (average 17:1)
K 46 26:1 3
L 49 17:1 5
M 41 25:1 19
N 31 24:1 85
O 78 29:1 14
P 49 28:1 89
Q 91 20:1 10
R 83 13:1 78
S 88 18:1 16
National 59.7 17:1 27
Average
Student faculty ratios assume that part-time faculty are employed on a
1/3 time basis.
Source: IPEDS, Fall 2000 institutional data.
instructional personnel on a fulltime
basis, and five of the nine
with such data show a full-time
faculty rate of 90 percent or
greater.
? In contrast, only four of the nine
LGR institutions have more than
60 percent full-time faculty. In
the other five LGR institutions,
full-time personnel account for
fewer than half the faculty.
? The rates of full-time employment
for faculty in HGR institutions
are high, not only in
relation to the LGR institutions,
but in relation to national
averages. Nationally, four-year
public institutions have an
average of 72 percent full-time
faculty and private four-year
institutions have an average of 60
percent full-time faculty.
Furthermore, the greater use of fulltime
faculty does not appear to affect
adversely the ratio of students to faculty
(see Table 12). In fact, the HGR institutions
have somewhat lower ratios of
students to faculty, on average, than the
LGR institutions. Lower student to faculty
ratios occur despite the fact that a largely
full-time faculty is likely to cost more per
FTE faculty member than a faculty rich in
part-timers. When part-time faculty are
defined as one-third of an FTE, we find
that among the nine HGR institutions for
which data are available, eight have
student-to-faculty ratios at or below the
national average of 17 to 1. In contrast,
29
? Among the LGR
institutions, expenditures
per FTE
ranged from $10,500
to $17,900, and only
two institutions had
expenditures above
$15,000.
? The median expenditure
among the
HGR institutions
($18,600) is 59
percent higher than
the median for the
LGR institutions
($12,019). The
median per-student
expenditure among
the HGR institutions
in fact exceeds
the amount spent by
any of the LGR
institutions.
Nationally, public fouryear
institutions spend, on
average, about $20,000 per
FTE undergraduate enrollment,
meaning that half of
the HGR institutions in the
study spend slightly less than
the national average and all
of the LGRs spend only
about half the national
average. These large differences
in per-student resources
may well play a major role in
explaining the differences in
student outcomes.
Yet at the same time
that the HGR institutions
spend much more per
student than the LGR
institutions, the nominal
costs of education to the
students who attend these
institutions do not appear to
differ commensurately.
Bearing in mind that the
official costs of attendance
(tuition, room and board,
books, etc.) often do not
reflect actual student costs
? because large numbers of
students receive subsidies or
discounts ? we see that the
institution-reported costs of
tuition are slightly higher at
the HGR institutions (see
Table 13):
? Among HGR
colleges (in-state)
tuition and fees
range from $1,840 to
$19,200, with the
median cost at
approximately
$5,200.
? Among LGR
institutions (instate)
tuition and
fees range from
$2,000 to $12,600,
with the median
cost at $3,282.
Table 13: Institutional Expenditures and Students Costs, HGR and LGR Institutions, Fall 2000
Institution Expenditures In-State Full Costs Average Percent of
per FTE Tuition (and (Inc. Room, Institutional Full-Time
Undergraduate Percent per Board, Other) Grant (to First-Time
Student Student First-Time Students
Expenditures Students) Receiving
Tuition Reflects) Institutional
Grants
HGR
Medians $18,600 $ 5,200 $12,006 $ 3,407 50
A private $35,799 $19,196 (54%) $28,962 $12,200 94
B public $14,959 $ 1,875 (13%) $11,775 $ 1,710 45
C public $19,162 $ 1,840 (10%) $ 8,154 $ 2,740 15
D private $18,621 $ 9,790 (53%) $19,472 $ 5,731 71
E private $12,398 $ 6,370 (51%) $11,980 $ 2,395 77
F public $20,767 $ 3,006 (14%) $12,032 $ 1,226 33
G private $28,016 $17,030 (61%) $26,850 $ 6,311 75
H public $18,174 $ 4,096 (23%) $10,796 $ 980 17
I public $13,767 $ 3,296 (24%) $ 8,096 $ 4,074 49
J private $27,313 $10,496 (38%) $19,358 $ 4,153 55
LGR
Medians $12,019 $ 3,282000000 $14,269 $ 1,274 35
K private $10,938 $11,395(104%) $21,285 $ 4,374 97
L public $12,019 $ 2,314 (19%) $11,768 $ 1,532 23
M public $16,279 $ 2,322 (14%) $11,582 $ 1,040 8
N public $13,599 $ 3,282 (24%) $14,269 N/A 0
O private $ 9,525 $ 8,950 (94%) $18,635 $ 1,796 35
P private $17,852 $ 12,592 (71%) $20,362 $ 5,000 48
Q public $10,510 $ 2,022 (19%) $ 6,172 $ 604 41
R private $10,764 $ 9,640 (90%) $16,508 $ 1,274 27
S public $12,816 $ 2,124 (17%) $ 9,218 $ 519 37
National $16,329 $15,064000000 $21,423 $ 4,165 15
average
Source: IPEDS, Fall 2000 institutional data.

Even though their
tuition costs may
be somewhat
higher, students at
the HGR
institutions are
more likely than
those in LGR
institutions to
receive grants
that offset the
costs of
attendance.

30
But if other costs, including room and board, are added,
the differences in cost between HGR and LGR institutions
change, with the HGR institutions showing a range of $8,100
to $28,950 and a median of $12,006, while the LGR institutions
range from $6,200 to $21,300 and a higher median cost
? $14,300. Overall, tuition and living costs at most of the
institutions in the study, HGR and LGR alike, fall below ?
and often well below ? the national average for four-year
institutions.
Even though their tuition costs may be somewhat higher,
students at the HGR institutions are more likely than those
in LGR institutions to receive grants that offset the costs of
attendance (see Table 13). For first-time, full-time students,
both sets of institutions offer federal grants of roughly similar
size to low-income students, and public institutions in both
sets of schools also offer state grants at similar rates (see
Appendix B). Institutional grants differ dramatically, however,
and substantially offset the costs of attendance, in the
highest-cost HGR institutions.
? At the highest-cost HGR institution (tuition
$19,200), 94 percent of first-time, full-time students
receive an institutional grant and the average grant
is $12,200.
? At the next most expensive school (tuition:
$17,000), 75 percent of the first-time, full-time
students receive an average of $6,300 in institutional
grants.
? Overall, institutional grants at HGR institutions
range from $980 to $12,200, with a median grant of
$3,407 and a median 50 percent of students receiving
an institutional grant.
? Among the LGR institutions, grants range from zero
to $5,000 with a median grant of $1,274 and a
median of 35 percent of students receiving institutional
support.
Thus, the somewhat higher cost of attending an HGR
institution is more than offset by institutional assistance (i.e.,
discounting).
If we compare the per-student institutional expenditures
described earlier with the tuition students pay, we find that,
even without taking tuition offsets (i.e, institutional grants)
into account, tuition accounts for a smaller share of institutional
expenditures in the HGR than the LGR institutions.
We would expect tuition to be a small share of costs at public
institutions and that is largely the case:
? Among HGR public institutions, tuition accounts for
10 percent to 24 percent of per-student expenditures.
? In the five LGR public institutions, tuition accounts
for 14 percent to 24 percent of per-student expenditures
(similar to the HGR institutions).
What is particularly noteworthy are the differences in
tuition as a share of costs in the private institutions.
? Among HGR private institutions, tuition accounts
for between 38 percent to 61 percent.
? But in the four private LGR institutions, nominal
tuition ranges from 70 percent to 104 percent of perstudent
institutional expenditures. In three of these
institutions, nominal tuition is 90 percent or more of
per-student expenditures.13
While there are some small institutional grants that
offset tuition costs for small percentages of students, these
private LGR institutions would appear to have few sources of
income beyond tuition. Thus, they are at the mercy of yearto-
year enrollment fluctuations and federal or other payments
to students.
Even without considering their higher graduation rates,
what these financial data suggest is that the HGR institutions
may be a better buy. The HGR institutions appear to spend
more on education without greater student outlays.14 These
higher expenditures are true for both public and private
institutions. Further, the private HGRs have more resources
to spend beyond tuition than their private LGR counterparts.
Greater resources appear to translate into considerably higher
rates of full-time faculty and the opportunities such faculty
offer for faculty-student contact. Finally, the greater resources

HGR institutions
have more fulltime
faculty,
lower student/
faculty ratios,
some graduate
offerings, and
more importantly,
far greater
resources.

31
of the HGRs are available to students without much additional
student cost, once institutional grants to students
(essentially tuition offsets) are taken into account.
Summary and Discussion
There are important systematic differences in student
body and resources between the HGR and LGR institutions
in the study, differences that are likely to play a major role in
explaining their differing graduation rates. As we have
shown, HGR institutions are more likely to enroll students
on a full-time basis. They are also more likely to draw
students of ?traditional? college age (i.e., recent high school
graduates). Limited data on prior performance suggests that
students at HGR institutions may also have better academic
preparation for college. HGR institutions have more full-time
faculty, lower student/faculty ratios, some graduate offerings,
and most importantly, far greater resources for their education
than LGR institutions. Ironically, the students at high-cost
HGR institutions probably pay no more out of pocket for
education than do the LGR institutions because the HGR
institutions with high tuition also offer larger institutional
subsidies to more students.
These findings also suggest that the LGR institutions in
this study face extraordinary challenges in providing education,
let alone retaining and graduating students. What is
most striking is their level of per-student resources. Only four
of the nine LGR institutions and none of the LGR private
institutions are even in the same range of per-student expenditures
as any of the HGR institutions. Their per-student
expenditures are substantially lower than national averages as
well. Not surprisingly, they must employ relatively large
shares of faculty on a part-time basis in order to keep costs
low. When coupled with student bodies that are older, are
likely to have had poorer academic preparation, and are
attending school part-time, this financial profile takes on
even greater significance. These institutions are spending
much less than average to serve a population with much
greater than average academic need. Given their resources
and student bodies it is quite possible that the LGR institutions
are performing relatively well in retaining and graduating
students, even at the low absolute levels that led to their
inclusion in the study. Unfortunately, we cannot address this
issue ? performance relative to student body and resources
? with the data at hand.
What we can learn are the factors that HGR institutions
share. We know that, compared with other institutions (in
the NCAA data set) that have substantial shares of lowincome
students, these institutions are some of the most
successful at retaining and graduating students. We also now
see that most of them have student bodies that are largely
young and enrolled full time. Nonetheless, most of the HGR
institutions still spend less than the national average per
undergraduate student to provide education and, as we shall
describe later, they are not highly selective. Clearly, they
must be doing something right. The next section of this
report looks at the commonalities in policy and practice that
we observed at the HGR institutions that may help to
explain their performance.

For institutions
with large
percentages of
low-income
students, these
HGRs have some
of the highest
graduation rates
among NCAA
institutions.

33
COMMONALITIES AMONG THE ?HIGH GRADUATION RATE? INSTITUTIONS
The HGR institutions in the study are a diverse group of
four-year colleges and universities. They include:
? A public, Historically Black land-grant college of
about 3,600 undergraduates with a six-year graduation
rate of 45 percent. Located in a rural area, the
school is nominally open enrollment, but students
who have not completed a college prep curriculum
or do not have a 2.0 high school GPA are admitted
as provisional only. Popular majors include engineering
technology and sciences, and applied professional
sciences.
? A large land-grant state university with 12,500
undergraduates, ?slightly? selective (2.5 GPA,
college prep curriculum completed), and a six-year
graduation rate of 41 percent. The institution is
located in a small but growing urban area and
popular majors include business, education, engineering,
and the social sciences.
? A private, Historically Black college of 2,400
undergraduates with a strong religious base and sixyear
graduation rate of 43 percent. The institution is
modestly selective, seeking students with at least a
2.5 GPA, 720 SAT or 15 ACT, but conditionally
admitting some students without those qualifications.
The institution is located in a rural area and
popular areas of study include engineering, health
and natural sciences, and business.
? A rural private university with 1,400 undergraduates
that is relatively selective (at least 1000 SAT for
regular admissions, some special admits accepted)
and has a six-year graduation rate of 65 percent.
Largest majors include business and the social
sciences.
? A state university campus with 7,600 students that is
modestly selective (2.0 GPA, 18 ACT/870 SAT) but
conditionally accepts some without those grades or
scores. Its six-year graduation rate is 43 percent.
Located in a small town, popular majors include
education, criminal justice, accounting, and nursing.

Because lowincome
students
are large
percentages of all
students at these
institutions ... it is
likely that their
graduation rates
do not differ
substantially from
graduation rates
for students as a
whole.

34
? A private, religiously-oriented Historically Black
college with 700 students, located in a mid-sized city.
The institution has an open admissions policy, and a
six-year graduation rate of 56 percent. Popular
majors include business and the natural sciences.
? A modestly selective state university campus (seeks
top third of high school class, or for out of state
applicants, a 2.5 GPA and 900 SAT) with 5,400
students and a six-year graduation rate of 42 percent.
Located in a rural area, the most common majors are
liberal studies and business. Many students are
preparing for teaching careers.
? A public, Historically Black college with approximately
1,800 students that is modestly selective (at
least a 2.0 GPA, 700-800 SAT for most students),
and reports a six-year graduation rate of 49 percent.
Located in a small town, social science, business, and
protective services are the largest programs.
? An urban, private university with 5,800 students
that may be described as moderately selective (twothirds
of entrants score at least 500 on the math
SAT). The six-year graduation rate is 52 percent.
Popular majors include business, marketing, computer
sciences, and health.
? An urban, private, Historically Black university with
850 students that is modestly selective (2.5 GPA,
?competitive? SAT/ACT, and good recommendations).
Its six-year graduation rate is 56 percent.
As can be seen from these brief descriptions, half of the
institutions are HBCUs. The high percentage of HBCUs
among the institutions is due to the high percentages of lowincome
students at HBCUs in general.14
Some of the six-year graduation rates among the 10
institutions may not seem terribly impressive by national
standards ? about half of all students who enter four-year
colleges have graduated from the same institution six years
later ? yet all but three of the institutions have higher rates
than the national average. However, for institutions with
large percentages of low-income students, these HGRs have
some of the highest graduation rates among NCAA institutions.
15 Furthermore, by national standards these are relatively
small colleges and universities overall. The average
undergraduate enrollment for the 10 HGRs is below the
national enrollment average.
We selected these institutions based upon their overall
graduation rates. We do not know whether low-income
students who attend these institutions have the same graduation
rates as students as a whole. Most of these institutions
have not studied whether low-income students perform
better, worse, or the same as other students. In preparation for
our visit, one university did carry out such an inquiry and
found that Pell Grant recipients had the same graduation
rates as students as a whole. Because low-income students are
large percentages of all students at these institutions ? Pell
Grant recipients represent between 38 percent and 82
percent among the 10 institutions and more than half of all
undergraduates in all but three institutions ? it is likely that
their graduation rates do not differ substantially from graduation
rates for students as a whole.
COMMON PRACTICES AT HGRS
The following section describes commonalities in policy
and practice observed among these 10 institutions that
may help explain their relatively good performance.
The discussion reflects 2 to 2.5 day visits to each of the 10
schools during 2002. The findings are organized under four
themes:| A Personal Education| A Commitment to Undergraduate Education| A Community Apart, and| A Hospitable Policy Environment.

One important
common element
is the extent to
which the
institution creates
a personalized
educational
experience.

35
Under each theme, common elements in policy and
practice are described that reflect the theme and may help to
explain the graduation rates we have observed. It is important
to keep in mind that not every institution in the study fits
neatly under every theme or engages in every practice. If we
observed a particular policy or practice at several institutions
it is described here, whether it was observed everywhere.
Furthermore, the common elements described may or may
not explain their high graduation rates. It can simply be
stated that institutions with these characteristics also show
relatively high rates of student retention and graduation.
A Personal Education
Across the HGR institutions, one important common
element is the extent to which the institution creates a
personalized educational experience. The faculty and staff see
their roles as directive, helping students to make the right
course choices, keeping close track of their educational
progress, and intervening if problems arise. During the site
visits, we heard repeatedly from students, faculty and staff
such sentiments as ?Nobody gets lost here,? or ?You can?t be
anonymous in classes here.? The institutions personalize
education in a variety of ways ? through advising, small
classes and special programs.
Intentional, intrusive academic plans. The HGR institutions
put a great deal of effort into shaping students? educational
experiences. Seven of the 10 institutions employ
intrusive advising aimed at ensuring that students make
initial course choices that will ensure academic success and
steady progress toward graduation. These institutions generally
require students to attend multiple meetings (three or
more) with their advisors each semester, although not all
students show up for all ?required? visits. Faculty and staff
advisors encourage students to declare majors as soon as
possible so they will know exactly what courses they will need
to graduate. Some of the institutions place strict limits on the
number of units entering students may take, regardless of
their past performance. Advisors in some of the institutions
conduct mid-term reviews with students who appear to be
having academic difficulties (two of the institutions send
notices to parents as well). Making sure that students complete
general education requirements early is also a goal.
Here are some examples:
? At a public HBCU, all new students are enrolled in
a freshman program and assigned a professional or
faculty advisor. At the initial meeting, the advisor
provides the student with an already-developed
schedule for the semester. At the conclusion, the
student receives a PIN number for online registration.
The online system also allows advisors to track
student progress each semester, while students can
get accurate information on the courses they still
need to graduate. Dropping or adding classes requires
an advisor?s signature. If students do not declare a
major by the end of the freshman year they stay in
the freshman program for additional advising.
Faculty advisors are required to complete training.
At-risk students have both freshman program and
faculty advising from the outset. Typically, students
have multiple meetings with their advisor each
semester.
? At a large private university, all new students are
assigned to professional advisors for the first semester.
The advisors tell the students to take 12-15
credits so as not to overextend themselves. By
second semester, students switch to faculty advisors
in the colleges that reflect their areas of interest and
the faculty advisors provide more directive, guided
assistance. In some popular majors ? such as
business ? the four-year curriculum provides little
room for student choice in courses. Students who
perform below a 2.0 are targeted for intrusive
advising that requires multiple meetings during the
semester and plans for improvement.

Most of the HGR
institutions take
pains to ensure
that students
get directive
assistance in
selecting an
educational
program.

36
Summing it up succinctly, students at one HBCU said
the advising system was ?parental.?
Most of the institutions in the study use faculty advisors.
Advising loads ranged from 10 or 12 to 30 per faculty member,
depending on the institution. These relatively low
numbers provide advisors an opportunity to get to know the
students they advise. No one reported that faculty advisors
provided insufficient time for student assistance, and respondents
at several institutions indicated that faculty advisors
spend considerable time with each student. The amounts and
kinds of training for faculty advisors differ ? some institutions
provide intensive annual faculty training, whereas
others send out information as needed. Faculty also teach
freshmen orientation classes that help students plan their
academic programs, learn study skills, and plan careers.
A few institutions use different advising systems. One
larger public institution conducts small group advising by
professionals in the summer prior to freshman year. Once
students are enrolled, they are advised by faculty in some
colleges but professional counselors in others. Special programs
including Student Support Services (SSS) and ethnic
affinity programs also serve as advising resources for the
students who participate. Most faculty advisors have 30 or
fewer advisees and some faculty are more directive than
others in steering students to particular classes or teachers.
In another institution, a ?summer bridge? for low-income or
at-risk students prior to freshman year offers academic
advising followed by enrollment in one of several special
programs (SSS, Educational Opportunity Programs, etc.)
One private university conducts an orientation week for new
freshmen the week before school starts with placement tests
and advising.
When students are having academic difficulties, the
advising systems become particularly active. Many of the
HGR institutions have strict policies about academic probation
and suspension but nevertheless make substantial efforts
to improve the performance of students who perform below a
C average. One private college holds meetings in each
semester at which faculty and administrators review the
performance of every student in the college. Students with
low GPAs are asked to present plans for how they will address
academic deficiencies. The committees review the plans and
then decide whether to require additional advising, place the
student on probation, or take other action. In another public
institution, mid-term reviews that show academic deficiency
may lead to action plans that require tutoring or other action.
One HBCU sends out a list of students with GPAs below 2.0
to retention counselors. Students below 2.0 must write an
essay about why they did not perform well and how they will
improve before being allowed to register for the next year.
Students at one institution said they were ?grounded? by the
?reality check? of mid-term advising and valued faculty help
in devising corrective actions for academic deficiencies.
In short, most of the HGR institutions take pains to
ensure that students get directive assistance in selecting an
educational program. Much of the direction is provided at
college entrance, and it is aimed at ensuring that students
complete requirements and do not overextend themselves.
The colleges reinforce their direction with firm efforts to get
students to declare majors early and with active intervention
when students experience academic difficulty. The relatively
low numbers of students per advisor and the amount of time
devoted to guiding students allow entering students the
opportunity to develop strong relationships with advisors.
Not every student may take equal advantage of the system,
but the option is there to do so.
Small classes. One of the most consistent findings among
the HGR institutions is the predominance of small classes,
even at the freshman level. When asked what institutional
factors were responsible for the institution?s success in
retaining and graduating students, faculty and staff often
mentioned small class size as the first or second most important
factor. We have already seen that HGR institutions have
a greater percentage of full-time faculty members than the
LGR institutions as well as student-to-faculty ratios that are
about average for all higher education institutions. Qualitative
information collected during the site visits shows that

Students indicate
that small class
sizes figure
prominently in
why they like the
institutions and
why they and
their classmates
are likely to stay.

37
typical freshmen classes are small and, in many of these
institutions, no larger than those found in high schools.
While we do not have information on typical class sizes
from every institution, large lecture classes were not common
in any of these 10 institutions. One relatively small private
university reports that 35 students are considered a large class
and that a typical freshman class in arts and sciences includes
17 students. There are a few introductory lecture classes but
they typically include 30-35 students and are held to a
maximum of 60. Another public state college reports that all
freshman courses are taught by full-time faculty members and
that the largest classroom on the campus holds 110 students,
but that most classes are quite small. Officials at one public
HBCU indicate that the school offers no large lecture classes.
At the largest private college in the study, the average class
has 22 students. Even at the largest state university in the
study the average lower division class size was reported as 39
students; in the upper division, class size was lower, at an
average of 22 students. Officials at several institutions stress
that all freshmen classes are taught by full-time faculty ? no
part-timers or adjuncts.
Students indicate that small class sizes figure prominently
in why they like the institutions and why they and
their classmates are likely to stay. In group discussions with
students conducted at each site, students noted the small
classes in which they were enrolled offered a great deal of
personal attention and opportunities for discussion. Students
said they were able to talk to professors easily and get to
know their fellow students. They contrasted the small classes
they take with the large lectures that they know to be the
case at other institutions. Faculty know students by name and
some faculty take attendance at each class. Students may
bemoan the fact that they can?t be anonymous, but most
appreciate the personal attention small classes afford.
Making students special. Almost all of the HGR colleges
have special or professional affinity programs that enroll subgroups
of students on the campus. Many of these programs
serve low-income students explicitly, or serve students that
are disproportionately low-income ( first-generation, minority,
or at-risk students). While not every targeted student
participates in these programs, many do. Other special
programs focus on high-achieving students; several of these
institutions have honors programs or colleges. Some of the
special programs offer financial aid for participants ?
especially the state educational opportunity programs ? and
summer employment linked to the students? professional
goals. These programs include the TRIO program, SSS,
which enrolls first-generation and low-income students;
state-level educational opportunity programs focused on atrisk
low-income or minority students; other public agency
programs (particularly federal programs) aimed at minority
students, such as National Science Foundation sponsored
programs; and programs sponsored by professional associations
or academic departments, such as minority engineering,
business, and science programs.
These special programs provide services and academic
support that further individualize and personalize education.
The programs play an active role in shaping students?
academic programs. Typically, they provide students with
guidance on course-taking and, in some institutions, special
program staff serve as the participant?s advisor of record. In at
least two of the institutions, enrolling in a special program is
mandatory for conditionally or specially admitted students. A
few of the programs offer assistance even before the first
semester of freshman year, through summer bridge programs
that provide instruction and tutoring ? in math especially
? as well as advising, social programs, etc. During the school
year, the programs also provide tutoring, peer mentoring, and
other academic support. They may also help students form
study groups for common classes. Some offer summer jobs or
internships, especially programs for minority science, math,
and engineering students. In the programs that focus on a
particular field or career (sciences, math, business, etc.),
students are guided by faculty and other professionals in those
fields.
Some have argued that special programs may offer
excellent services but that students are stigmatized by

We found that
faculty in the 10
institutions are
either exclusively
focused on
teaching or
indicate that
teaching
undergraduates
is their
main business.

38
participating. We saw little at these 10 colleges to suggest
that participating in these types of special programs had
negative consequences for students. In fact, students involved
in these programs were generally enthusiastic about the
services. There is some evidence from the national evaluation
of Student Support Services that participation enhances the
likelihood of staying in college and graduating. It is impossible
to generalize to all programs, but in the views of faculty
and staff at the HGR institutions, these programs play a
major role in structuring students? education and encouraging
them to pursue careers.
A unique place. One of the HGR institutions has an
intensive approach that is unique among the institutions we
visited. The only open admissions institution in the group of
10, this small, religiously-oriented HBCU offers a highly
structured educational experience. New students first arrive
in July with their families for a two-and-a-half day orientation.
Students take assessment tests, which are sophomore
proficiency exams that provide the basis for assignment to
classes. Students who lack sufficient skills are enrolled in
intensive five-credit courses in math, science, and English.
All students also enroll in a two-credit freshman experience
course. Faculty take attendance at all classes and contact
parents if students are absent more than a few times. Students
must attend chapel once a week.16 There is even a dress code.
More than 20 percent of the students are also enrolled in
Student Support Services. Some students find the prescriptive
approach difficult, even describing it as a ?boot camp,?
but most decide that its advantages (a strong likelihood of
completing a four-year degree despite poor academic skills at
entrance) outweigh its disadvantages. Everyone agreed that
the ?hands on? quality of schooling at this institution means
that no one can remain invisible.
A Commitment to Undergraduate Education
A second commonality among the HGR institutions is
the emphasis placed on undergraduate teaching. We have
already seen that these institutions offer classes that are
relatively small, even at the introductory level. In addition,
we found that faculty in the 10 institutions are either exclusively
focused on teaching or indicate that teaching undergraduates
is their main business. A few of the institutions
have graduate schools of some size but, nonetheless, emphasize
their undergraduate programs. In all of these institutions,
students indicate that faculty are accessible and supportive.
Beyond teaching, we found that freshman course offerings are
fairly standard, although some of the institutions are beginning
to adopt curricular innovations. Classroom instruction is
often accompanied by supplemental academic assistance,
however. Availability of developmental education varies
widely, as state rules determine the availability of developmental
education in public institutions.
A dedicated faculty. In all but one or two of the HGR
institutions, students and staff report that the faculty are
caring, helpful, and focused primarily on undergraduate
instruction. As already noted, most of the HGR institutions
have largely full-time faculty, and the proportions of full-time
faculty are higher than the national average. Those numbers
tell just part of the story, however. Site visitors were impressed
with the attitudes of faculty, noting that the faculty
members they spoke with see themselves as responsible for
the success of their students. As one college administrator put
it, ?We take average students and make them exceptional
students.? Some of the institutions encourage faculty to
conduct research, but even in those institutions, faculty and
staff reiterate that quality of teaching is a major factor in
decisions on hiring and tenure.
At most of the institutions students described their
teachers as excellent, inspiring them to persevere and
achieve. We had no ?hard? evidence to reinforce this anecdotal
information from students we met, but the message in
the student group interviews was consistent. One large state
university campus had surveyed students on features of the
institution they liked best. The high quality of teaching,
including opportunities for classroom interaction, was the
number one factor cited by students across the institution.

The other
academic
?innovation? ...
at most of the
institutions is
academic support
linked to the
courses students
take in their
freshman year.

39
Stories of supportive faculty were widespread. At these
high-performing institutions, faculty often interact with
students outside of class ? sponsoring clubs, staffing special
professional programs, offering students opportunities to assist
in research, inviting students to their homes. Faculty attend
summer orientations, often meet with parents, teach freshman
experience courses and the like. At some of the institutions
faculty are on campus all day, every day, not just during
classes and office hours. We heard stories of faculty who
assisted students who needed financial help. We also heard
about faculty who intervened when minority students were
poorly treated by businesses near campus. At almost all of the
institutions we were told that faculty have high performance
expectations for students that encourage high achievement.
Educational innovation then and now. In visiting these
institutions, we were interested in finding out what kind of
educational experience undergraduates in general, and
freshmen in particular, were likely to encounter. We wanted
to see whether these institutions had adopted particularly
interesting, innovative, or unique approaches to education
that might help to explain their success. We asked what kinds
of classes or programs students might experience in their
freshmen year. We found that, in the years from which our
student performance data were drawn, these institutions
offered fairly conventional freshman courses aimed at
building basic skills, fulfilling general education requirements,
or exploring possible fields in which to major. While several
of the institutions are currently exploring or have begun to
adopt curricular innovations, such as learning communities or
other more integrated approaches to freshman year studies,
students who recently completed their education (and are,
thus, included in the data we used to select these institutions)
were not affected by those reforms in most of the institutions.
One curricular innovation that appears to have been
adopted widely (and to which the students in our data were
exposed), is a freshman course aimed at helping students
acclimate to campus, learn to study, and plan for the future.
At least eight of the 10 institutions offer some form of this
course. This course has a variety of names: freshman seminar,
freshman orientation, freshman 101, or a similar title. These
courses are offered for credit and are sometimes required of all
entering students. They offer information on study skills, test
taking, and time management. They also inform students
about the academic support services available at the campus
and how to use them. They provide career information and
sometimes include career inventories or other tests of student
career suitability. In some cases, the courses include additional
individual advising. In general, the courses are taught
by regular, full-time faculty whose disciplines range widely,
giving students another opportunity to get to know faculty
early on.
The other academic ?innovation? we noted at most of
the institutions is academic support linked to the courses
students take in their freshman year. These freshman courses
include the general education classes and the ?gatekeeper?
courses for majors, as well as developmental education in
those institutions that offer it. All of the institutions offer
opportunities for peer tutoring linked to freshman courses
and most offer supplemental instruction (SI) or mastery
classes ? an additional hour or two of instruction a week tied
to the lecture or class content ? led by knowledgeable
students or faculty. In many of the institutions the amount of
SI/mastery is limited; it is usually available for math classes,
and sometimes for other classes that students find particularly
difficult. Most of the institutions also have some form of
writing lab where students may bring class assignments.
Other common academic support services include peer
tutoring, technology and computer centers, learning centers,
study groups, etc. Most tutoring is free to students, although
there may be limits on how much is available. Depending on
the institution and its size, services may be centralized or
provided by individual colleges or departments.
One institution appears exceptional with respect to the
amount and intensity of academic support. This is the only
institution that has provided team teaching for freshman
courses for several years. It offers a great deal of faculty and
student tutoring to accompany almost every freshman course

What is clear
is that many
students enter
without solid basic
skills and that
most of these
institutions make
a concerted effort
to improve
students? basic
skills ...

40
as well as supplemental instruction and laboratories attached
to general education and freshman classes, all led by regular
full-time faculty. The institution also offers free tutoring to
students in those classes. This institution is now exploring
more formal learning communities, having already linked the
freshman courses in some fields.
Improving basic skills. The institutions differ with respect to
opportunities for gaining the basic skills needed to perform
well in college. At least four of the institutions offer summer
bridge programs prior to freshman year, but most programs are
limited to math and/or the sciences, and not all students
attend. One offers a summer math program of 4-6 week
duration for 25 potential math or science majors. Two offer
summer bridge programs only for students in economic
opportunity or other special admission programs. One
institution offers a bridge program between freshman and
sophomore years as well.
In years past, most of the HGR institutions had developmental
or remedial offerings, but at the present time less than
half the institutions have official developmental programs. It
is quite possible (depending on when they were phased out)
that the students upon whose performance we based the
selection of these institutions had considerably more opportunity
for developmental education than do current students at
the 10 HGR schools. Those opportunities might help to
explain the graduation rates we observed. At present, six
institutions offer no official developmental education. Two of
the six had developmental classes until recently forbidden by
state law. In these states, students who need remedial or
developmental education can no longer attend four-year
colleges until they have completed developmental instruction.
The one open-enrollment HGR institution abandoned
developmental education on its own a year ago, changing to
five-credit intensive freshman classes in math, science and
English. At this private HBCU, officials said that students
felt stigmatized in the old program. One institution without
any official developmental classes nonetheless offers a halfyear
math tutorial that is taken by many students and carries
no credit. In this institution (and possibly in others) students
performing below certain acceptable levels cannot enroll in
?restricted? majors. Some of the institutions that eliminated
developmental offerings now allow students to repeat courses
without penalty, substituting the second grade for the first.
The remaining four institutions offer some developmental
classes, but the extent of offerings and the percentages of
freshmen participating differ considerably. At two institutions,
developmental education is limited to the students in
special programs ? one of these is a conditional admit
program, the other is a Student Support Services program. At
the other two institutions, sizable shares of freshmen take
developmental education ? one institution estimates that 35
percent are enrolled in intensive four-day-a-week math,
reading, writing and speech classes. In the other institution
we were told that ?large? numbers of freshmen take remedial
English and math. Because of institutional and state policies,
it is hard to know whether the institutions without official
developmental classes do, nonetheless, offer comparable
instruction either in credit classes or through ?tutoring? or
learning centers. What is clear is that many students enter
without solid basic skills and that most of these institutions
make a concerted effort to improve students? basic skills
through tutoring, additional class hours (SI, mastery classes,
etc.), study groups, laboratories or other methods. In short,
there is a sizable developmental effort taking place in these
institutions.
A Community Apart
Only two of the 10 HGR institutions are located in large
cities. Many of the HGR institutions are located in small
towns in rural areas, far from the population centers in their
respective states. In visiting these institutions, we were struck
by the degree to which the campus is a true focus for the
students (and the faculty and staff as well); the center of their
social as well as their academic lives. Further, several of the
institutions have adopted policies that ensure that students
live on campus, and residence halls offer a wide assortment of

By design, or
because of
isolation, these
institutions?
officials (and the
site visitors)
describe these
colleges as
communities,
villages, etc.

41
social and academic activities that foster attachment to other
students and the institution. In some instances, social
integration is also fostered by shared values and beliefs. Of
course, these institutions also attract students who want a
campus-based educational experience, so it is difficult, if not
impossible, to know exactly what role the campus plays in
institutional success. Nonetheless, these institutions share
geographic and social characteristics that are worth noting.
The advantages of isolation. Most of the HGR institutions
are in small towns or small cities surrounded by rural areas
and far from major population centers. Although distributed
across the country, most are in rural settings with limited
opportunities outside the institution for social interaction. By
design, or because of isolation, these institutions? officials
(and the site visitors) describe these colleges as communities,
villages, etc. Only three of the institutions are commuter
schools, with students driving from surrounding areas, but
most are largely residential. Freshmen in particular are likely
to live on campus, while students who do not live on campus
generally live nearby.
Because there are few other institutions or cultural
attractions nearby, the institutions make special efforts to
provide a wide range of social and cultural opportunities.
These institutions offer clubs, affinity groups, and social
activities that are seemingly disproportionate to their size.
For example, one institution with 2,000 students boasts over
100 clubs, an active student government, racial/ethnic
affinity groups, and many cultural events. As officials noted,
the school is an ?enclave? where students can feel safe to try
new things. Another institution has an active student
government and organizes low-cost trips (skiing, hiking, city
visits) to build cohesion and keep students from feeling
isolated. Most of the institutions have extensive event
schedules, with everything from homecoming to concerts to
athletic events. At these institutions, faculty and staff play
central roles as sponsors of clubs, groups and activities,
providing students many opportunities to interact with them
outside the classroom. As one staff member said about her
campus, ?We?re a small campus but there?s a ?hook? for
everyone here.? At most of the schools, students and faculty
said that most students participate in some club or program.
The faculty and staff see these programs as important, not
only to build social cohesion, but as opportunities for students
to develop self-confidence and leadership abilities. Not
all students take part, but in most of the schools the majority
of students participate in some activity.
Geographical isolation also means that students who
work are likely to work on campus. The institutions need
part-time help and the students are the main source of
available labor. Because these institutions draw relatively
large percentages of students who are low-income, the
institutions also take advantage of the Federal Work-Study
program at relatively high rates. At one school, more than a
quarter of the undergraduates are employed on campus. Oncampus
work links students with faculty and staff, increasing
institutional attachment, even when the work is not professional
in nature. Several of the institutions also offer schoolyear
and/or summer employment or internships through
federal, professional, or other programs aimed at drawing
minority students into business, engineering, the sciences, or
other fields. Some of that employment is also at the institutions,
although it is also in businesses or elsewhere.
The residential component. A few of the institutions are
commuter schools, with students driving in from surrounding
areas, but most are primarily residential. Freshmen, especially,
are likely to live on campus, while students who do not live
on campus generally live nearby. Five of these institutions
require freshmen (or freshmen under 20 or freshmen and
sophomores) to live on campus. One institution has a special
lounge for those students who do commute. A few of the
institutions have active Greek programs that include housing,
but at most of the institutions the students live in
residence halls. The halls are a focal point for student activities,
although in most of these institutions the activities are
social rather than academic. Dorm-based residence advisors
counsel students, plan activities, and provide support. Most

Faculty and staff
who come from
the same
backgrounds as
the students have
high expectations
for student
performance and
want to see their
students succeed.

42
schedule activities at least weekly. There are also constraints
on students? behaviors at a few institutions, including singlesex
dorms without visitation rights by the opposite sex, dry
campuses, etc. Given that these are institutions drawing
sizable shares of low-income students, the extent to which
these HGR institutions are residential is notable.
Shared values. Many of the students at these institutions
come from low-income families, but they share other characteristics
as well. These shared characteristics may help to
build group cohesion and may also, independently, influence
students? college retention and graduation. We have already
noted that five of the 10 schools are HBCUs, and there is
some evidence to suggest that African-American students
who attend HBCUs have somewhat higher graduation rates
than comparable students who select other schools. Three of
the five HBCUs are also religiously-affiliated, and campus life
includes religious services and activities. Faculty and staff at
several institutions indicate that, because of their rural
location, the schools draw students disproportionately from
rural areas and small towns nearby, and attract students who
are reluctant to go to college in large cities. Sometimes even
the small-town campus looks large compared to the high
schools the students attended. Faculty and staff say these
small-town and rural students have been raised to value hard
work and are highly motivated to complete college. They are
often the first in their families to attend college.
At several institutions, faculty and staff pointed out that
they share the students? backgrounds. They come from small
towns and rural areas, attended similar colleges (even the
same institution in some cases), were in the first-generation
in their families, and were similarly motivated. Some of the
minority-serving institutions also have large minority faculties
and staffs. At one larger institution with a sizable Hispanic
student population, officials speculated that students
may be motivated to continue and complete their education
because they see Hispanics role models among the many
Hispanic faculty and staff. Conversely, faculty and staff who
come from the same backgrounds as the students have high
expectations for student performance and want to see their
students succeed.
Everyone we spoke with noted that the college life these
institutions offer is not for everyone. We met students who
said they felt hemmed in by small-town campus life and
planned to transfer to larger institutions or institutions in
urban areas. We also talked with students who were quite
positive about their school but noted that friends had chosen
other colleges because they didn?t want to be physically
isolated. It is possible that students who select these institutions
are more likely to be quite serious about education and
willing to persevere to graduation than comparable students
who select more urban institutions with outside distractions.
A Hospitable Policy Environment
So what do the institutions do explicitly to attract, retain
and graduate their students, including their low-income
students? Is it all a matter of attitude, campus climate, and
culture, or have these institutions adopted policies that may
help to explain their performance? We wanted to look beyond
instructional ?practice? to see if there were other institutional
factors or policies that might help us understand why these
institutions are successful in retaining and graduating students.
Recruitment and admissions. The 10 HGR institutions did
not intentionally set out to serve low-income students.
Recruiting low-income students is not an institutional goal in
any of these schools but is largely a by-product of other
recruitment goals and realities. As we have noted, five of the
institutions are HBCUs, designed to serve African-American
students primarily. On average, African-American students
have lower family incomes than other college students.
Most of the other five institutions (as well as some of the
HBCUs) are located in states, or regions within states, that
are relatively poor by national standards. They draw their
students largely from those states and within-state regions.
The one institution among the 10 that is located in a
relatively wealthy area draws most of its students from racial
and ethnic groups that have recently immigrated to that

HGR institutional
policies for the
awarding of
need-based aid
are fairly
standard,
although some of
the public
institutions make
a concerted effort
to keep students
out of loan
programs,
especially during
freshman year.

43
region from outside the U.S. Therefore, in actively recruiting
African-American students in their states, students who live
near the institution, recent immigrants, etc., they are also
recruiting low-income students. As an official in one private
institution put it: ?Our students come primarily from the
working-class region where we?re located so we?re a poor
man?s college, but we?d sure like to get an occasional ?full
freight? student to help balance the books.?
These institutions do seek students who have a high
likelihood of graduating from college. With one exception,
the 10 HGR institutions do not have open admissions. Most
of the institutions describe themselves in college guides as
?moderately? selective. At a minimum, they seek students
who had at least a C or C+ average in high school, took an
academic preparation curriculum, and perform at slightly
below the national average on the SAT or ACT. They may,
in fact, attract some students with considerably better
performance. Some of these schools admit students conditionally
who lack a C average in high school, but their
preference is for students with at least average academic
records. The performance of conditional admits is reexamined
at the end of the first year and those who do not perform
satisfactorily do not continue. In the previous section we
showed that most of the students in these institutions had
performance levels in the top half of their high school classes
(based on institutional reports in college guides). And as we
also noted previously, they enroll most students right out of
high school.
Through their mix of offerings, these institutions also
attract and recruit students with greater potential to succeed.
Several of the institutions offer honors programs or colleges
with even smaller classes and more faculty attention than are
available to the student body as a whole. About half the
institutions have engineering departments or schools,
programs likely to attract students with an interest in math
and science and relatively good academic skills. Some who
enroll in an honors or an engineering program may find that
they do not have sufficient background to complete the
programs, but by switching to a different major they are
successful. The switch in majors will affect their careers but
not their college completion.
Financial aid. We have already seen that the HGR institutions
award need-based financial aid ? federal and state ?
at similar rates as the LGR institutions. From the site visit
reports it appears that HGR institutional policies for the
awarding of need-based aid are fairly standard, although some
of the public institutions make a concerted effort to keep
students out of loan programs, especially during freshman
year. Nonetheless, most federal grant aid is awarded on a firstcome,
first-serve basis so students who apply early have a
better chance of receiving more generous financial aid. The
earliest awards are more heavily weighted to grant aid than
are later awards and, in most cases, students who apply late
are obliged to use the loan programs more heavily. Several
institutions use Federal Work-Study and other campus
employment to help students avoid loans. At least two
institutions report that a quarter or more of the students work
on campus, many through work-study.
Beyond federal and state grant programs explicitly
reserved for low-income students, most grant (or ?gift?) aid is
merit-based. We showed previously that institutional grants
offset the costs of education at the HGR institutions at
higher rates and for more students than do such grants in
LGR institutions. From the site visits we learned that, in
three of the institutions, there are merit-based programs that
include consideration of financial need. These institutions
make special efforts to recruit high-achieving, low-income
students. For these students, the institutions are often able to
put together a package composed entirely of grant aid. The
grants are a way to make the institution more attractive to
high-achieving students who, officials believe, would otherwise
go elsewhere.
In at least four other institutions, however, the meritbased
aid programs do not consider family income. Institutions
located in at least two states take advantage of state
grant programs for students who perform at a set level ?
usually a B average. Low-income students participate in these

Senior officials
focus on retention
in discussions
within the college
community.

44
programs, but the aid is intended primarily to provide
incentives for high performance in college. There are also
colleges that award institutional funds to students who
demonstrate high achievement in high school or in their first
semester or year of college. In the state programs, and some
institutional programs, students whose achievement falls
below the required level lose the grants permanently, which
can be a major blow to low-income students who received
these grants. In at least one private HBCU, officials noted
that there is little need-based institutional support and what
little exists is fading fast.
The active use of institutional aid (and state, merit-based
programs in a few cases) to recruit and retain high performing
students provides a common link among the colleges that
may help to explain their relatively high graduation rates. At
least seven of the 10 institutions operate merit-based programs.
Beyond these programs, it might also be the case that,
by trying to minimize loan aid and support student work on
campus, the institutions maintain their financial attractiveness
to students over time. Most officials, however, indicate
that loan aid increases after freshman year.
Attention to retention. The HGR institutions give considerable
attention to student retention and completion of
college. Not only do they seek high-performing students and
offer attractive academic programs, many of the institutions
also have explicit retention and graduation goals. Several
conduct institutional research to measure their progress in
meeting those goals. Beyond the goals, senior officials focus
on retention in discussions within the college community.
This explicit focus on retention may also help to explain
their success. Officials in several of the institutions we visited
told us that they were not satisfied with their current levels of
freshman-to-sophomore retention or their graduation rates.
They were surprised that we were visiting their institutions to
find out what they were doing right. They were looking at
retention and graduation in absolute terms, not relative to
other schools with large percentages of low-income students,
and they were not happy with their results.
Campus leaders have taken various actions to create
awareness on campus and improve retention and graduation.
One public HBCU established a retention task force that
developed a strategic plan based on analysis by outside
consultants. The institution sought a 6 percentage point rise
in freshman-to-sophomore retention and an overall increase
in the graduation rate of 7 percentage points by 2003.
Another institution has adopted goals for increased freshman-
to-sophomore retention and is exploring various
academic reforms and alternatives to developmental education
in a bid to increase graduation rates. At a third institution,
all faculty meet monthly with student retention as a
focus of the meetings. At another institution as a retention
staff resides in the president?s office. It provides direct services
to improve academic performance to all students and conditional
admits are required to participate.
The institutions have also adopted ?academic standing?
policies that promote retention for students in academic
difficulty. As one administrator put it, ?There are lots of
second chances.? The institutions have policies that emphasize
keeping students enrolled rather than suspending
students or encouraging them to attend a community college
and then return. Several of the institutions have end-ofsemester
or end-of-year reviews of every student performing
below 2.0, with students asked to provide plans for improvement
before any decisions are made on suspension. The
students are usually allowed to stay and, if suspended,
opportunities for reinstatement are plentiful. As a faculty
member at one school put it, ?If students make some effort it
is our responsibility to see that they succeed. We only sever
ties with students who make no effort.? At least three
institutions allow students to repeat classes (including
developmental classes) and to retain financial aid credit for
full-time enrollment.
Summary
In this section we have identified common elements
among the HGR institutions that may help to explain their
performance. As noted at the outset, not every institution

Officials ... were
not satisfied with
their current
levels of
freshman-tosophomore
retention or their
graduation rates.

45
demonstrated each element, nor is there evidence that these
elements are directly responsible for the graduation rates we
observed. Without a controlled experiment, it is not possible
to say that these elements explain the higher graduation rates
we observed. Further, the evidence we have is preliminary
and limited, based on brief site visits to the 10 colleges.
Nevertheless, commonalities among the institutions include:
? Intentional academic planning: through intrusive
advising, freshman orientation courses, and academic
reviews for students in trouble, the institutions make
sure that students pursue a well-structured academic
program;
? Small classes: most classes, even those for freshmen,
are small, giving students opportunity for recognition
and class discussion;
? Special programs: many students, especially
those at academic risk, participate in programs that
provide advising and academic support, and give
them a greater sense of belonging on campus;
? A dedicated faculty: stories abound about the
caring, warm environment faculty create. Most
faculty members teach full-time and are easily
accessible to students;
? Educational innovation: these institutions have
courses to ease freshman entrance and help students
adjust to college life. They also offer a wealth of
academic support through tutoring, group study,
supplemental instruction, mastery classes and the
like;
? Developmental education: although formal developmental
offerings are fading, they were active at most
of these institutions at the time they were selected;
? Geographic isolation: Most of the institutions are in
rural areas or small cities, making campus life and
work on campus the center of the students? lives;
? Residential life: half the institutions require freshmen
to live on campus. There are only a few commuter
schools among the colleges;
? Shared values: at many of the colleges, students
share rural and small-town backgrounds, some share
a religious orientation, and in some schools the
faculty reflects similar backgrounds;
? Modest selectivity: institutions do not intentionally
attract students from low-income families but they
do seek students likely to graduate, setting modest
but important admissions requirements ? at least a
C average in high school and decent SAT/ACT
scores. (Only one institution could be considered
?open enrollment.?) The HGRs offer pre-professional
programs likely to attract better prepared
students and they actively recruit high performing
high school students;
? Financial aid for high achievers: the institutions use
state and institutional merit-based aid to attract
high-performing students; only a minority of the
institutions consider family income in awarding
merit-based aid; and
? Retention policy: the colleges are explicitly concerned
with retention and graduation rates, and
several have set ambitious retention and graduation
goals well beyond current performance.

The elimination of
developmental
education may
have negative
effects on lowincome
students.

47
Among the institutions serving large shares of
low-income students there are widely
differing graduation rates. These differences
occur despite the finding in many studies
that low-income students are retained at
lower rates than other students. We have seen, however, that
among those institutions, much of the difference in student
outcomes may be due to factors so basic that they are hardly
amenable to ?tweaking? institutional policies or practices.
They may require, at least in public institutions, systematic
consideration at the state level. These factors include prior
student performance, available institutional resources, and
items that are directly affected by resources such as levels of
full-time faculty. In this study, we also see that the LGR
institutions serve a population that is, on average, older and
more likely to be enrolled in college part time, factors that
are independently associated with lower rates of graduation
in other studies. Often, the institutions facing the greatest
challenges ? lower prior student performance, older and
part-time students, etc. ? also have the least resources to
address those challenges.
We noted at the end of the comparative section that,
given their limited resources and at-risk student bodies, at
CONCLUSION
least some of the LGR institutions may perform well relative
to others with greater advantages. However, our design did
not allow for this type of analysis. We should also note that,
while we have not focused on their difficulties, some of the
LGR colleges in the study face (or have recently faced)
extraordinary challenges, including major financial problems,
issues in accreditation, or student bodies with needs extending
well beyond obtaining a college degree. In the end,
comparing in detail their policies and practices with those of
other colleges may add little to our understanding of ?what
works.?
We did have an opportunity, however, to look across 10
institutions with large shares of low-income students but
higher than average graduation rates, not only in relation to
the institutions with high percentages of low-income students,
but in relation to all institutions. We have identified
common policies and practices among some or most of these
institutions. We do not know that these factors explain these
institutions? performance (any more than we know what
accounts for differences between the LGR and HGR institutions),
but we know that these are factors that are held in
common. Furthermore, some of these factors are associated
with higher student performance in other studies, including

This finding
suggests that
these [HGR]
institutions may
have a
comparative
advantage in
building the kinds
of group cohesion
and social
attachment to the
institution that
many have
argued are critical
to student
persistence.

48
freshman orientations and special programs for at-risk
students.
Other findings are more surprising and intriguing. We
found, for example, that many of the HGR institutions have
or had developmental or remedial programs that enrolled
large shares of freshmen. Although some of the institutions
have abandoned these programs recently, the cohorts upon
whose performance we based this study were enrolled when
developmental education was available. While increasing
numbers of states are eliminating developmental education
from four-year institutions, it remains to be seen how this
will affect enrollments and graduation rates of low-income
students. Even where state policy is not a factor, institutions
have eliminated these programs in the belief that they are
ineffective or that they stigmatize enrollees. If the findings
of this study hold for more institutions, the elimination of
developmental education may have negative effects on lowincome
students.
Another intriguing finding is that many of the HGR
institutions are located in small towns or rural areas (or
small towns in the middle of rural areas) and that their
student bodies are relatively homogeneous from a cultural
standpoint. This finding suggests that they may have a
comparative advantage in building the kinds of group
cohesion and social attachment to the institution that many
have argued are critical to student persistence. Of course, it
should also be noted that selecting institutions with large
percentages of low-income students may, itself, have biased
the selection in favor of these kinds of small-town colleges.
Because we made only brief visits to each of the
institutions, there were fairly severe constraints on what we
were able to see and record. There may be other important
commonalities ? or combinations of factors ? that were
simply overlooked or go well beyond what we could observe
in a short period of time. For example, we have reported on
discrete factors that we observed, but success may be due to a
combination of those factors or conditions. It may be that it
is not enough to have a caring faculty if an institution does
not also have leadership, faculty, and staff that share a vision
of the institution?s purposes or goals. It may not be enough to
have sufficient resources if an institution does not have an
active advising system that directs new students to courses
that sufficiently structure their initial educational experience.
There may also be other institutions that do as well, if
not better, than the institutions we have studied. Because we
used graduation rate to select the institutions, our study
favored institutions with low transfer rates. Colleges with a
high rate of transfer are not among the institutions we
studied. Yet there are institutions that offer a curriculum
geared to general education and a limited number of majors
with the expectation that a sizeable share of students will
transfer. These include branch campuses of larger state
college or university systems as well as colleges that grew
from two-year to four-year institutions but retained some
functions of a community college. These colleges may
perform relatively well but show lower graduation rates (at
least two of the LGR institutions are in this category).
Nonetheless, there do appear to be important findings
from this preliminary research. Institutions with relatively
high graduation rates intervene actively in students? course
and program planning, provide small classes, have full-time
faculties that are dedicated to teaching undergraduates and
know the students personally, offer (or offered) developmental
education, are largely residential for new students, and are
explicitly concerned with increasing retention and graduation.
They also select students who show some promise of
completing; they may exercise only minimal selectivity but
they do show some. They also use merit-based institutional
aid to attract and retain high achieving students, but only a
limited number consider family income in awarding that aid.
49
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57
1 The participating institutions are not named to assure
confidentiality.
2 Students with disabilities were added to the program in
recent years.
3 Students attending less than half-time are not eligible for
a Pell Grant, but the NCES data set does not allow us to
differentiate among students who attend less than fulltime
but more than half-time; they are all categorized as
part-time.
4 These data limitations suggest the preliminary character
of the results.
5 The listed ?N? in Tables 1, 3, and 4 vary slightly due to
different reporting sources and the possible inclusion of
branch campuses in some reports.
6 The Carnegie Commission on Higher Education developed
a classification system for higher education in 1973.
The system, which was later refined and update in 1976,
1987, 1994, and 2000, divides colleges and universities
ENDNOTES
into groups based on the degrees that they grant ?
doctoral, master?s, baccalaureate, and associate?s. In
addition, the system identifies specialized institutions,
which includes theological institutions, and schools of
law, medicine, and teacher education. For more information
about the classification system, see the Carnegie
Foundation website, http://www.carnegie foundation.org/
classification.
7 Median is a different measure of central tendency than
the mean, which was reported in Tables 3 and 4.
8 The final institution was selected, but we were unable to
conduct a site visit due to scheduling conflicts.
9 Some were excluded as HBCUs or declined to participate.
10 As we shall describe later, several of the HGR institutions
have adopted policies that strongly encourage or
require freshmen students to live on campus ? policies
that would be unattractive to older, ?returning? or parttime
enrollees.
58
11 Large percentages in the ?unknown? category for some
institutions make typical rates of minority participation
difficult to identify.
12 Per-FTE expenditures are defined as education and
general expenditures, i.e., all current expenditures except
for auxiliary enterprises ? dorms, dining halls, hospitals,
separate research centers etc. Use of FTE undergraduate
enrollment may overstate differences as HGR institutions
have somewhat more graduate students.
13 The fourth institution increased its tuition by 50 percent
in the year after our data were collected.
14 It is worth noting, however, institutional grants are
included in per-student expenditures.
15 As noted in the study design, we decreased the
percentage of low-income students an institution needed
to qualify for inclusion in the study so this would not be
an examination of HBCUs exclusively.
16 Some HGR HBCUs were not included in the study and
one other institution declined to participate.
17 Religion plays an important role in at least one other
private college, but chapel is not mandatory.
59
APPENDIX A: INTERVIEW GUIDE
President or other senior official(s) (Use judgement on depth of descriptive information
sought from these individuals)
1. Review briefly the key data from institutional profile
2. What accounts for institution?s performance in view of respondent? Possible
reasons/explanations for institution?s performance outcomes:
a) Unique elements: student body, special programs that attract particular kinds
of students, special policies on retention, or other factors;
b) institutional policies,
c) instructional approach or programs,
d) services/campus climate,
e) other factors?
At high retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?What do you think accounts
for the success of this institution in retaining and graduating low-income (or
underrepresented) students?? ?Are any efforts currently underway to improve
performance?? If yes, describe.
At the low retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?How satisfied are you and/
or institution with current performance?? Any efforts underway to improve
performance?? If yes, describe.
(Answers to these questions should help you focus attention on policies, instruction,
and programs that may account for institutional performance ? but you
should still keep an open mind about other factors).
3. How would you characterize the freshman student body at this institution? What
experiences do they bring to education? What are they seeking in a college
education? What are their greatest academic or other needs?
4. What are the institutional policies that are likely to affect low-income/
underrepresented students and in what manner? Policy areas to ask respondent to
consider include: recruitment, admissions, financial aid, required coursetaking
(including developmental education), academic performance/standing, selection
of colleges and majors, etc.
What evidence can respondent offer on the a) implementation and b) likely
effects of policies cited on low-income students? Studies, evaluations, other
sources of information?
5. What academic approaches does respondent consider likely to affect low-income
students. Some possible areas on which to focus: developmental education,
organization of instruction, initial educational experience, prefreshman programs,
advising, academic standing, academic support offerings, monitoring of student
enrollment and progress, etc.
What evidence can respondent offer on the implementation and likely effects on
low-income students of approaches cited? Ask about studies, evaluations, other
sources of information.
6. What social support opportunities on campus are likely to affect low-income
students? Possible types of services: affinity groups that provide a means for
students to develop group and/or institutional identity; study groups, means to
link students and faculty (e.g., mentoring programs), other systematic efforts to
develop relationships with other students, faculty, etc. (organizations, activities,
clubs, sports, etc.)
Special programs (such as EOP, SSS, MESA, other departmental programs) that
provide a ?home base? for low-income or underrepresented students (or students
with disabilities) and/or offer social and academic services or link students with
services on campus.
7. What accommodations does the institution make for students who are also
parents? Working? Need a job on campus? Have a disability? Must adjust their
schedules around other responsibilities or needs? What services are available to
help these students?
8. What additional approaches, activities, programs, on this campus play a role in
the retention and completion of college, especially for low-income students?
9. What does the respondent consider the responsibility of the institution with
respect to retention and graduation? The limits of institutional responsibility?
What challenges/barriers does the institution face in ensuring high rates of
retention and completion?
Senior administrator(s) responsible for policies related to attracting/retaining/
graduating low income and/or underrepresented students (use judgement on depth of
questioning about individual policies or programs)
1. Review briefly the key data from institutional profile
2. What accounts for institution?s performance in view of respondent? Possible
reasons/explanations for institution?s performance outcomes:
a) Unique elements: student body, special programs that attract particular kinds
of students, special policies on retention, or other factors;
b) institutional policies,
c) instructional approach or programs,
d) services/campus climate,
e) other factors?
At high retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?What do you think accounts
for the success of this institution in retaining and graduating low-income (or
underrepresented) students?? Are any efforts currently underway to improve
performance?? If yes, describe.
At the low retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?How satisfied are you and/
or institution with current performance?? Are any efforts underway to improve
performance?? If yes, describe.
(Answers to these questions should help you focus attention on policies, instruction,
and programs that may account for institutional performance ? but you
should still keep an open mind about other factors).
3. How would you characterize the freshman student body at this institution? What
experiences do they bring to education? What are they seeking in a college
education? What are their greatest academic or other needs?
4. Ask respondent to describe institutional policies explicitly focused on, or likely to
affect, low-income/underrepresented students. Policies to examine include:
recruitment, admissions, financial aid, required coursetaking (including developmental
education), academic performance/standing, selection of colleges and
majors, etc. (Use judgement on depth of questioning on each set of policies
depending on location/knowledge of respondent.)
Describe history of policy development, key elements of policy, how respondents
describe its implementation and likely effects on low-income students. Cite
evidence of policy implementation and effects from college studies, evaluations,
other sources of information.
With respect to recruitment: what goals have been set by the institution (and by
whom)? Describe. What efforts have been made (this year, past year) to attract
low-income and/or underrepresented students ? of traditional college age as well
as older students. Describe key features, who does it, how extensive, etc. What
was the outcome? How do these efforts fit within overall recruitment efforts (e.g.,
share of budget, attention to these populations)? How successful do institutional
officials see their efforts? What plans, if any, are there for changes in the policy or
process?
With respect to admissions: What goals have been set by the institution? Describe
goals and any changes/modification in goals over past few years. Note specific
goals with respect to low income or underrepresented students, returning students,
other special groups. Who establishes goals? What are current ?yield? levels?
Describe outcomes of policies over time, views of respondents about adequacy of
(satisfaction with) current goals. Describe any past or ongoing efforts to track
admissions or other accountability mechanisms ? who does it? any evidence of
effects? What are policies/views on part time enrollment? Describe any special
admissions policies ? for whom?
With respect to financial aid: Describe policies for need-based aid (and other aid,
if applicable). Who sets policies? What is the typical mix of grant/loan aid for a
low income freshman student and how much of ?need? is likely to be covered?
What other sources of assistance may be available? What efforts have been made
to integrate financial aid policies with recruitment/admissions policies? What
evidence is available on effects of aid policies? What are views of respondents
with respect to adequacy of aid, success of aid policies?
5. Examine academic approaches likely to affect low-income students. Some
possible policy areas in which to focus: developmental education, organization of
instruction, initial (freshman) educational experience, advising, academic
support services, etc.
Outcomes of advising: what does a typical freshman academic program look like?
What courses are required or taken by large percentages of students? What is a
typical course load? How likely are students to move to sophomore status at the
end of the first year of full time enrollment? What special programs exist for
freshmen ? such as honors programs or colleges, integrated courses ? and how
do students participate in them?
60
61
6. Ask about range and types of social support opportunities on campus.
Possible types of services: affinity groups that provide a means for students to
develop group and institutional identity; study groups, means to link students and
faculty (e.g., mentoring programs), other systematic efforts to develop relationships
with other students, faculty, etc. (organizations, activities, clubs, sports, etc.)
Programs (such as EOP, SSS, MESA, other departmental programs) that provide a
?home base? for low income or underrepresented students (or students with
disabilities) and that offer social and academic services or link students with
services on campus.
7. What accommodations does the institution make for students who are also
parents? Working? Need a job on campus? Have a disability? Must adjust their
schedules around other responsibilities or needs? What services are available to
help these students?
8. What additional approaches, activities, programs, on this campus play a role in
the retention and completion of college, especially for low-income students?
9. Who is likely to be able to provide greater detail on each of the three broad areas
of policy and practice we have discussed: institutional policies, academic approaches,
social and academic supports?
Director of Financial Aid
1. Confirm enrollment data from institutional profiles
2. What accounts for institution?s performance in view of respondent. Possible
reasons/explanations for institution?s performance outcomes:
a) Unique elements: student body, special programs that attract particular kinds
of students, special policies on retention, or other factors;
b) institutional policies,
c) instructional approach or programs,
d) services/campus climate.
At high retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?What do you think accounts
for the success of this institution in retaining and graduating low-income (or
underrepresented) students?? ?Any efforts currently underway to improve
performance??
At the low retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?How satisfied are you and/
or institution with current performance?? Any efforts underway to improve
performance??
3. How would you characterize the freshman student body at this institution? What
experiences do they bring to education? What are they seeking in a college
education? What are their greatest needs?
4. Describe financial aid policies likely to affect low income/underrepresented
students.
Ask about key elements of policy, how respondents describe implementation of
the policies and likely effects on low income students. Ask for evidence of policy
implementation and effects from college studies, evaluations, other sources of
information.
Focus on policies for need-based aid (and other aid, if applicable). Who sets
policies? What is the typical mix of grant/loan aid for a low-income freshman
student and how much of ?need? is likely to be covered? What other sources of
assistance may be available? What efforts have been made to integrate financial
aid policies with recruitment/admissions policies? What evidence is available on
effects of aid policies? What are views of respondents with respect to adequacy of
aid, success of aid policies?
When does the financial aid office enter the process of decision-making on new
students? To what extent does the office participate in recruitment and admissions
decisions? To what extent does the financial aid office seek the input of offices or
programs that serve low income or underrepresented students in either general
decisionmaking on decisions on specific students?
What types of financial crises are likely to arise once students are enrolled? What
happens when students have financial crises? (seek examples) What sources of
emergency aid are available? How are they allocated?
5. What additional approaches, activities, programs, on this campus play a role in
the retention and completion of college, especially for low-income students?
6. What does the respondent consider the responsibility of the institution with
respect to retention and graduation? The limits of institutional responsibility?
What challenges does the institution face in ensuring high rates of retention and
completion?
62
Senior Official for Student Affairs
1. Confirm data from institutional profile, then ask: What accounts for institution?s
performance in view of respondent. Possible reasons/explanations for institution?s
performance outcomes:
a) Unique elements: student body, special programs that attract particular kinds
of students, special policies on retention, or other factors;
b) institutional policies,
c) instructional approach or programs,
d) services/campus climate.
At high retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?What do you think accounts
for the success of this institution in retaining and graduating low-income (or
underrepresented) students?? ?Any efforts currently underway to improve
performance??
At the low retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?How satisfied are you and/
or institution with current performance?? Any efforts underway to improve
performance??
(Answers to these questions should help you focus attention on policies, instruction,
and programs that may account for institutional performance ? but you
should still keep an open mind about other factors).
2. How would you characterize the freshman student body at this institution? What
experiences do they bring to education? What are they seeking in a college
education? What are their greatest needs?
3. Describe institutional policies likely to affect low-income/underrepresented
students. Policies to examine include: recruitment, admissions, financial aid,
required coursetaking (including developmental education), academic performance/
standing, selection of colleges and majors, etc.
Ask respondent about importance of each type of policy and its likely effects on
low-income students. Ask for evidence of policy implementation and effects from
college studies, evaluations, other sources of information. Ask about role of
student affairs office in recruitment, admissions, financial aid decisionmaking (if
any).
4. Examine academic approaches likely to affect low-income students. Some
possible areas on which to focus include orientation programs, developmental
education, organization of instruction, freshman year experience (including bridge
programs), the advising process, academic standing process, academic support
offerings.
5. Social support opportunities on campus. Ask respondent to outline range of
offerings under jurisdiction of student affairs, then other offices. Possible types of
services: affinity groups that provide a means for students to develop group and
institutional identity; study groups, means to link students and faculty (e.g.,
mentoring programs), other systematic efforts to develop relationships with other
students, faculty, etc. (organizations, activities, clubs, sports, etc.)
Programs (such as EOP, SSS, MESA, other departmental programs) that provide a
?home base? for low-income or underrepresented students (or students with
disabilities) and that offer social and academic services or link students with
services on campus.
6. What accommodations does the institution make for students who are also
parents? Working? Need a job on campus? Have a disability? Must adjust their
schedules around other responsibilities or needs? What services are available to
help these students?
7. What additional approaches, activities, programs, on this campus play a role in
the retention and completion of college, especially for low-income students?
8. What does the respondent consider the responsibility of the institution with
respect to retention and graduation? The limits of institutional responsibility?
What challenges does the institution face in ensuring high rates of retention and
completion?
Director of Office of (Freshman) Advising
1. Review briefly the key data from institutional profile
2. What accounts for institution?s performance in view of respondent? Possible
reasons/explanations for institution?s performance outcomes:
a) Unique elements: student body, special programs that attract particular kinds
of students, special policies on retention, or other factors;
b) institutional policies,
c) instructional approach or programs,
d) services/campus climate,
e) other factors?
63
At high retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?What do you think accounts
for the success of this institution in retaining and graduating low-income (or
underrepresented) students?? ?Any efforts currently underway to improve
performance??
At the low retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?How satisfied are you and/
or institution with current performance?? Any efforts underway to improve
performance??
3. How would you characterize the freshman student body at this institution? What
experiences do they bring to education? What are they seeking in a college
education? What are their greatest needs?
4. Ask respondent whether there are institutional policies explicitly focused on, or
likely to affect, low-income/underrepresented students. Policies to examine
include: recruitment, admissions, financial aid, required coursetaking (including
developmental education), academic performance/standing, selection of colleges
and majors, etc.
Examine academic approaches likely to affect low-income students. After
discussion of general areas (developmental education, organization of instruction,
freshman year programs, etc. focus discussion on advising program.
The advising process: Who advises new and continuing (and lower and upper
division) students about which courses to take? (Are there other offices that
provide advising for particular groups of students?) When does advising take place
When do students declare majors? Is admission to some majors restricted, and if
so, how? Are there any special advising efforts for special admission students?
Other students (e.g., underrepresented students)? With respect to academic
standing, what are the policies with respect to dropping courses? How commonly
do students drop courses? What is ?good standing? at the end of freshman year?
sophomore year? later? At what GPA level is any action taken ? what actions are
taken? How common are such actions? What are policies with respect to suspension,
expulsion? How common are such actions? What opportunities exist for
appeal? For reinstatement? Evidence of impact?
Academic support offerings: What is the range of academic support available at
the institution? Describe learning centers, writing centers, departmental tutoring,
opportunities for research, etc. What happens when a student experiences
academic difficulties to ensure that they are addressed successfully? What happens
when a student skips classes? Who monitors class attendance?
Outcomes of advising: What does a typical freshman academic program look
like? What courses are required or taken by large percentages of students? What is
a typical course load? How likely are students to move to sophomore status at the
end of the first year of full time enrollment? What special programs exist for
freshmen ? such as honors programs or colleges, integrated courses ? and how
do students participate in them?
5. What additional approaches, activities, programs, on this campus play a role in
the retention and completion of college, especially for low-income students?
6. What does the respondent consider the responsibility of the institution with
respect to retention and graduation? The limits of institutional responsibility?
What challenges does the insti-tution face in ensuring high rates of retention and
completion?
Office of Institutional Research
1. Review and confirm the institutional data from institutional profile, seek updated
information if available. Seek any studies of recruitment, enrollment, retention
and graduation that may be available from the institution.
2. What accounts for institution?s performance in view of respondent? Possible
reasons/explanations for institution?s performance outcomes:
a. Unique elements: student body, special programs that attract particular kinds
of students, special policies on retention, or other factors;
b. institutional policies,
c. instructional approach or programs,
d. services/campus climate,
e. other factors?
At high retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?What do you think accounts
for the success of this institution in retaining and graduating low-income (or
underrepresented) students?? ?Any efforts currently underway to improve
performance??
At the low retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?How satisfied are you and/
or institution with current performance?? Any efforts underway to improve
performance??
64
3. How would you characterize the freshman student body at this institution? What
experiences do they bring to education? What are they seeking in a college
education? What are their greatest needs?
4. What policies, approaches to education, activities, or programs, on this campus
play a role in the retention and completion of college, especially for low-income
students?
5. What does the respondent consider the responsibility of the institution with
respect to retention and graduation? The limits of institutional responsibility?
What challenges does the institution face in ensuring high rates of retention and
completion?
Key Departmental or College Faculty (deans or other faculty in colleges or departments
that attract large numbers of students to freshman or other widely taken courses
? especially faculty who teach large freshman courses, if possible)
1. Review briefly the key data from institutional profile
2. What accounts for institution?s performance in view of respondent? Possible
reasons/explanations for institution?s performance outcomes:
a. Unique elements: student body, special programs that attract particular kinds
of students, special policies on retention, or other factors;
b. institutional policies,
c. instructional approach or programs,
d. services/campus climate,
e. other factors?
At high retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?What do you think accounts
for the success of this institution in retaining and graduating low-income (or
underrepresented) students?? ?Any efforts currently underway to improve
performance??
At the low retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?How satisfied are you and/
or institution with current performance?? Any efforts underway to improve
performance??
3. How would you characterize the freshman student body at this institution? What
experiences do they bring to education? What are they seeking in a college
education? What are their greatest needs?
4. Ask respondent to describe institutional policies explicitly focused on, or likely to
affect, low-income/underrepresented students. Policies to examine include:
recruitment, admissions, financial aid, required coursetaking (including developmental
education), academic performance/standing, selection of colleges and
majors, etc.
5. Examine academic approaches likely to affect low-income students. Some
possible policy areas in which to focus: developmental education, organization of
instruction, initial freshman coursetaking (and efforts to organize coursetaking
through linked courses, other approaches), advising, academic support, special
programs, etc.
After general discussion, focus more attention on ways in which instruction is
linked across courses, efforts at team teaching, freshman seminars, means of
linking classroom instruction with academic reinforcement, group etc.
6. What efforts have faculty (in this department or college) undertaken to ensure
that students are successful in their initial courses, in the department? What
challenges do the faculty face in freshman instruction? Are there special programs
for low income or underrepresented students (or other groups) under the his/her
jurisdiction? If yes, describe program, students, etc.
7. What policies, approaches to education, activities, or programs, on this campus
play a role in the retention and completion of college, especially for low-income
students?
8. What does the respondent consider the responsibility of the institution with
respect to retention and graduation? The limits of institutional responsibility?
What challenges does the institution face in ensuring high rates of retention and
completion?
Academic support service providers (learning center, writing center, tutoring center,
supplemental instruction director, etc.)
1. Review briefly the key data from institutional profile
2. What accounts for institution?s performance in view of respondent? Possible
reasons/explanations for institution?s performance outcomes:
a. Unique elements: student body, special programs that attract particular kinds
of students, special policies on retention, or other factors;
b. institutional policies,
65
c. instructional approach or programs,
d. services/campus climate,
e. other factors?
At high retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?What do you think accounts
for the success of this institution in retaining and graduating low-income (or
underrepresented) students?? ?Any efforts currently underway to improve
performance??
At the low retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?How satisfied are you and/
or institution with current performance?? Any efforts underway to improve
performance??
3. How would you characterize the freshman student body at this institution? What
experiences do they bring to education? What are they seeking in a college
education? What are their greatest needs?
4. Ask respondent to describe institutional policies explicitly focused on, or likely to
affect, low-income/underrepresented students. Policies to examine include:
recruitment, admissions, financial aid, required coursetaking (including developmental
education), academic performance/standing, selection of colleges and
majors, etc
5. Examine briefly the range of academic approaches respondent considers likely to
affect low-income students (developmental education, freshman year experience,
organization of instuction, advising, etc.), then focus on the role of the service the
respondent provides and describe more fully. What is offered, who is likely to
participate, how are they recruited or otherwise attracted to the service, when
does service start, what is the success of the program (evidence?) in helping
students achieve academic success? What is needed that is not currently offered
(or what changes might be advisable)?
6. What additional approaches, activities, programs, on this campus play a role in
the retention and completion of college, especially for low-income students?
Director of Developmental Education (or comparable position)
1. Review briefly the key data from institutional profile
2. What accounts for institution?s performance in view of respondent? Possible
reasons/explanations for institution?s performance outcomes:
a. Unique elements: student body, special programs that attract particular kinds
of students, special policies on retention, or other factors;
b. institutional policies,
c. instructional approach or programs,
d. services/campus climate,
e. other factors?
At high retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?What do you think accounts
for the success of this institution in retaining and graduating low-income (or
underrepresented) students?? ?Any efforts currently underway to improve
performance??
At the low retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?How satisfied are you and/
or institution with current performance?? Any efforts underway to improve
performance??
3. How would you characterize the freshman student body at this institution? What
experiences do they bring to education? What are they seeking in a college
education? What are their greatest needs?
4. Describe the extent of developmental education at the institution (for entering
freshmen) and the sequence of developmental courses. How does the institution
determine who enrolls and for what period of time? What percentage of new
students enroll in developmental classes and how have the numbers changed over
the past few years ? and/or are likely to change in near future? What is the
?progression? out of developmental education ? i.e., how long do students
typically take these classes and how flexible is movement out of developmental
education? What evidence is there about the impact of institution?s approach?
What are respondents? views of the adequacy of the current approach?
5. What are the links between developmental and non-developmental courses?
Between developmental education and other academic support offerings?
6. What additional approaches, activities, programs, on this campus play a role in
the retention and completion of college, especially for low-income students?
Providers of Other Support Services (including SSS, EOP, other ?home base?
programs, etc.)
1. Review briefly the key data from institutional profile
66
2. What accounts for institution?s performance in view of respondent? Possible
reasons/explanations for institution?s performance outcomes:
a. Unique elements: student body, special programs that attract particular kinds
of students, special policies on retention, or other factors;
b. institutional policies,
c. instructional approach or programs,
d. services/campus climate,
e. other factors?
At high retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?What do you think accounts
for the success of this institution in retaining and graduating low-income (or
underrepresented) students?? ?Any efforts currently underway to improve
performance??
At the low retention/graduation institutions can ask: ?How satisfied are you and/
or institution with current performance?? Any efforts underway to improve
performance??
3. How would you characterize the freshman student body at this institution? What
experiences do they bring to education? What are they seeking in a college
education? What are their greatest needs?
4. Ask respondent to describe institutional policies explicitly focused on, or likely
to affect, low-income/underrepresented students. Policies to examine include:
recruitment, admissions, financial aid, required coursetaking (including developmental
education), academic performance/standing, selection of colleges and
majors, etc.
Ask about the specific role of the program in decision-making an/or carrying out
the policies in any of the areas discussed.
5. Examine academic approaches likely to affect low-income students. Some
possible policy areas in which to focus: developmental education, organization of
instruction, freshman educational experience, advising, academic support
offerings (learning centers, writing centers, departmental tutoring, opportunities
for research, etc. Ask about links of provider (respondent) to those academic
offerings discussed.
6. Describe the range and types of social support opportunities on campus.
Possible types of services: affinity groups that provide a means for students to
develop group and institutional identity; study groups, means to link students and
faculty (e.g., mentoring programs), other systematic efforts to develop relationships
with other students, faculty, etc. (organizations, activities, clubs, sports, etc.)
Programs (such as EOP, SSS, MESA, other departmental programs) that provide a
?home base? for low income or underrepresented students (or students with
disabilities) and that offer social and academic services or link students with
services on campus.
Then, focus on describing the program for which the respondent is responsible.
Obtain more detailed information on its recruitment, student characteristics,
content, duration, evidence of effectiveness, etc. Ask about its relationship to
other support services, both social and academic, as well as to policymaking that
affects low income students.
7. What accommodations does the institution make for students who are also
parents? Working? Need a job on campus? Have a disability? Must adjust their
schedules around other responsibilities or needs? What services are available to
help these students?
8. What additional approaches, activities, programs, on this campus play a role in
the retention and completion of college, especially for low-income students?
67
APPENDIX B: MATRIX
68
Small private liberal
arts. Largest majors:
business, social science.
?Selective.? Rural
region of large state.
Undergrad enrollment
is 31,361, 5% parttime,
53% female.
Majority are in
residence, including
almost all freshmen as
they must spend 4
sem. in residence.
Undergrads are largely
traditional age
students. College
draws from public
schools, lowermiddle/
working class
backgrounds. Student
body is not very
diverse, but motivated
? they want to
improve economically.
3/4 have SATs over
1000, 30% over
1200. 81% fresh to
soph retention, 49%
graduate in 4 yrs, 65%
in 6 yrs. Faculty
member: ?We take
average students and
turn them into
outstanding students.?
78% FT. Most have
the terminal degree for
their field. Hiring and
promotion decisions
take teaching into
account. Official: ?We
hire people who care
about students and we
try to keep them here
and caring about
students.? Research
valued, but teaching
quality is most
important.
Institution sees
constituency as poor,
traditional age, firstgeneration,
talented
students (although
some full-pay students
desired). Seek out of
state (say retention is
higher). Work w/
CBOs, foundations to
get urban, minority
students. Tout value for
$ and generous aid.
Large staff (14 in
recruit/admiss)
throughout northeast
states. Attracting
minorities ?a
challenge.? Campus
visits orchestrated to
?sell? school, w/
faculty and student
participation. Parents
meet w/ financial aid
staff who show how
financing is possible.
Also sell school as
supportive of students
w/ non-physical
disabilities. Continue to
recruit AFTER
acceptance letters go
out ? described as
?pricing wars, student
by student.?
Attracts ?nonprivileged?
from
surrounding poor region
in state and large city.
Generates 2,000
applicants for 500 1st
yr slots (and gets 80
transfers ? not a
priority). Attracts many
from larger region.
1000 SAT floor, but
75-82 special admits
per year, as well as
EOP students. 76%
acceptance rate w/ 34-
35% yield rate.
Admissions is need
blind. Described as a
?poor man?s college?
although ?evolving? to
higher income. ?We
get our enrollment one
at a time.?
Generous aid program,
95% get some aid.
Initial aid decisions use
6 point system (4 for
academics, 1 for
special interest, 1
minority), then
generate package
based on income, in/
out state. Lots of
discounting. Avg.
student has est. $17K
debt at grad. Serviceoriented
financial aid
office ? works w/
parents on financial
planning. Monitors
student academic
performance to ensure
repeat of D courses, no
loss of aid.
1) Must spend 4
semesters in residence
halls ? lots of
activities, early
intervention warnings,
plans for improvement,
no segregation, no
study groups. 2) In
each college, scholastic
standards committees
review grades and
issues for all students
below C every
semester. Make
individual
recommendations.
Usually give second
chance but may
recommend probation,
suspension for a sem.,
etc. Students can
appeal and provide
plan for improvement,
approx. half are
reinstated.
No developmental ed,
but College of Business
offers 1/2 yr math
tutorial for no credit.
1/3 of college
curriculum closed to
EOP students, primarily
due to lack of math.
Intensive advising:
Fresh have orientation
week before first sem.
w/ testing, advising.
Proactive ? meet w/
faculty before each
semester to schedule
courses, get e-mails
about mid-term grades,
letters to all who are
subpar, faculty meet
w/ all in jeopardy, as
do deans, to ask about
problems. Must see
advisor to drop/add
course. Est. 3 mtgs per
sem, each 20-30 min.
12 advisees per faculty
member. Annual faculty
training for advisors
available. Also see
residence hall
discussion ? lots of
interventions. Greek
system also has
comparable
interventions.
INSTITUTION A
Other
institutional
policies that
affect lowincome
enrollment,
retention, and
graduation
Institution type Student
characteristics
Student
performance
indicators
(entrance, retention,
graduation,
avg. time to degree,
other important info)
Faculty info
(size, student/fac
ratio, % tenured or
track, % race/
ethnicity, other
important info)
Recruitment Admissions Financial aid Developmental
education
Advising
69
Curriculum reform not a
major priority until
recently. College
moving heavily toward
learning communities
? called Freshman
Year Experience, which
includes 3 courses.
Freshman year in
College of Bus: gen ed
and ?tool? courses,
math/statistics,
writing. 1/2 sem noncredit
tutorial for very
low math scores (or
might transfer to liberal
arts w/ wider range of
?math? courses).
Small class sizes (35 is
very large in bus, 17 is
max in LAS ? a few
intro lectures have 60
but most are 30-35).
For its size, school has
wide range of
programs (business,
engineering, arts,
humanities, social
sciences). Some
programs team taught,
lots of tutoring, SI,
labs, by faculty and
tutors accompany
classes. Freshman
Year Experience
(learning community)
new but growing ? in
LAS, bus, engineering.
Many faculty take
attendance ? almost
no one gets lost.
Writing center for
papers, undergrads
staff it. Departmental
tutors. Learning
disability program has
note takers. Faculty
don?t assume students
have basic skills ?
spend time on study
habits, reading and
writing skills. See
discussion of advising.
Over 100 clubs, lots of
?hooks? on campus to
draw students in: radio,
theater, dance, music
(participate and get
recognition), student
govt., affinity groups,
skill groups. Each has
faculty advisor. School
is an ?enclave? where
students can
experiment, be safe.
Faculty and students
?extraordinarily close.?
Faculty advocated for
minorities who felt
discriminated against in
town. ?Midnight
breakfasts? during
exam weeks (faculty
make meals). Fresh
and soph in residence
halls ? they?re small
w/ 70-90 per hall.
Supportive program,
registration priority for
students with nonphysical
disabilities.
Active, effective
counseling center w/ 3
profs, many referrals
from faculty, support
groups. Judicial system
offers hearings, peer
review board. Few
employment opptys on
campus.
Key items: 1)
attracting high
performing and
motivated students; 2)
full-time faculty
dedicated to undergrad
education; 3) small
class size; 4) close
student/faculty
relations; 5) scholastics
standards committee;
6) a niche for
everyone; and 7) solid
support services.
Faculty and
administrators believe
they are largely
responsible for whether
students succeed or
fail. They see
themselves as quite
good at building
student knowledge,
skills and self esteem,
if students are willing
to make an effort.
Limits of assistance:
students who make no
effort ? it?s better to
sever ties early than
waste their time.
Sometimes students
are dropped for a
semester but if they go
to another college and
do ok they return. Est.
half of appeals are
reinstated if they show
how they will improve.
One said ?there are
lots of second chances
but we don?t set
students up to fail.?
(LAS drops 30-40 a
year out of 800-900).
Most say students
leave primarily because
they can?t take physical
isolation, sentiment
echoed by students as
well.
Concur with items
identified by
respondents about
college effectiveness.
This is an extraordinary
college. The
supportiveness of the
faculty and the
opportunities for
student-faculty
interaction are
exceptional. Students
and faculty respect
each other. The school
is really physically
isolated but everyone
tries to make up for
that with great warmth
and lots of activities.
EOP: Program is
statewide and aimed at
attracting and retaining
minority students.
College participates and
works hard to make
program a success.
Students attend fiveweek
bridge program
to improve skills, get
orientation/advising.
Enter regular classes in
fall, get special
advising. Appear to
have higher attrition
rate but college trying
to change that.
Respondents?
views on
institutional
effectiveness?
Site visitors?
views on
institutional
effectiveness
Shaping
students? initial
instructional
program
Typical freshman
education
Academic
support system
Other social
supports
Accommodating
students
Respondents?
views on
institutional
responsibility
Site visitors?
views on
institution,
faculty,
students, etc.
Other important
information
70
INSTITUTION B
Other
institutional
policies that
affect lowincome
enrollment,
retention, and
graduation
Institution type Student
characteristics
Student
performance
indicators
(entrance, retention,
graduation,
avg. time to degree,
other important info)
Faculty info
(size, student/fac
ratio, % tenured or
track, % race/
ethnicity, other
important info)
Recruitment Admissions Financial aid Developmental
education
Advising
Public four-year college
in rural area in west.
Isolated campus, no
commercial area,
mostly commuter.
Students preparing for
teaching. Most common
majors: liberal studies,
business.
5,400 students, 69%
full-time, 66% female.
Ethnicity: 3% Black,
23% Hispanic, 8%
Asian, 53% white
(13% unknown).
Most from rural region.
73% from top half of hs
class, 55% have over
500 in verbal SAT, 57%
over 500 in math SAT
(few over 600 in
either). 82% fresh to
soph retention, increase
from past. 10%
graduate in 4 yrs, 23%
in 5 yrs, 41% in 6 yrs.
Most entrants are
traditional age students.
Females, Hispanics more
likely to graduate,
Blacks less likely to
graduate.
70% tenured, 61% FT.
15:1 ratio. Faculty
aging; many started
when institution began.
Few minorities.
Classroom performance
counts toward
promotion, along w/
research. Students
participate in
evaluation.
Institution participates
in some programs in
public schools to
encourage college
attendance. Want to
increase enrollment,
but this year exceeded
limit set by state.
Small summer bridge,
EOP program, re-entry
adult program.
In-state: C+ hs avg. and
900 SAT (point
system). Seek top half
of hs class. Will need
college prep curriculum
in 03. Higher
requirements for
?impacted? programs.
enrollment increasing,
seeks to expand
substantially, from
7,000 to 10,000 or
more over time. Some
special admits (EOP,
music, athletes, some
adults). Transfers from
CCs.
Last yr: $23m in aid (of
which $8m was loans).
61% get some aid. They
take pride in keeping
students out of loan
program. Some talent
scholarships (in arts,
athletics). Asians,
Hispanics resistant to
loans. Loan forgiveness
for those who go into
teaching (large % of
grads in ed).
Center for Student
Success sets explicit
retention goals,
monitored by
institutional committee.
Mandatory orientation
after placement tests.
If needed,
developmental courses
required and must pass
in 1 year. Few really
leave ? get multiple
tries.
Large number need
developmental classes
based on exam given to
2/3 of entrants (with
SAT below 530). Must
remain in them until
they pass. Hard to drop
remedial classes. Can
take other English,
math. If don?t pass in
year, referred to CC.
Interactive approach
used ? small classes,
instructors as coaches.
In past, hard to pass
(remedial standards
were higher than
general math course),
revising downward.
50% don?t pass
remedial math but get
multiple tries.
Students find
advising inadequate,
say little relationship
between students
and advisors. First
year program (new)
has advising and
testing office, class
on college survival,
orientation, multidisciplinary
classes.
EOP, SSS AMP,
Summer Bridge use
peer counselors and
faculty advisors to
assist new students.
71
Respondents?
views on
institutional
effectiveness
Site visitors?
views on
institutional
effectiveness
Shaping
students? initial
instructional
program
Typical freshman
education
Academic
support system
Other social
supports
Accommodating
students
Respondents?
views on
institutional
responsibility
Site visitors?
views on
institution,
faculty,
students, etc.
Other important
information
Special programs provide
lots of direction. EOP
participants see advisors
every month, cultural
component; also SSS
Program; AMP program
(NSF$). All work
together. Workshops,
career counseling,
writing, study skills,
resumes, study groups if
on probation. Also
programs for veterans,
returning students.
Most intro courses
taught by FT faculty, no
TAs. Science teachers
teach labs section of
their classes. Most intro
classes are in liberal
studies. Classes small
(biggest room on
campus holds 110).
Est. 10% drop over
semester. Fresh year
experience block rosters
for two classes (new
program).
Tutoring: support for
math, English, other
basic skills, as well as
more advanced
classes. Math lab open
every day, tutorials
grouped by class but
mostly one-on-one. 95
student tutors work 10
hrs each per week.
Student Success Center
established 2001:
comprehensive first
year program, summer
reading program for
new students,
orientation events
(parts of program were
already in existence).
Student leadership
opportunities, active
student govt. College
organizes low-cost trips
(skiing, hiking, city
visits). Social service
and academic
organizations for
students, but not a lot
of involvement. Lack of
social options an issue
for those who leave
college. Plan to double
number of dorm rooms
to help improve campus
life. Women?s athletics
gets more support than
men?s (more women
on campus).
Hard for some to juggle
school and work.
Parking an issue, also
classroom and facility
overcrowding. New
facilities have led to
better class schedules.
Students say others
leave because of
finances, seek more
interesting campus
(institution doesn?t
track students).
Financial aid office
doesn?t think finances
a major reason in
leaving.
Students get multiple
tries to complete
developmental courses.
Few leave due to
academic failure, despite
nominally rigorous
policy. Emphasis on
retaining students and
improving their
performance.
Increasing interest in
studying and improving
retention. School sets
retention targets for
different groups of
students. Many special
programs that support
students, help keep
them in school.
Officials stress personal
involvement, small
classes, lots of
direction. Remediation
seen as key to
persistence. Other
positive factors cited:
small classes, FT
faculty teaching
freshman classes,
teaching a factor in
promotion, staff
commitment to
students, ombudsman,
faculty mentor program
for first-generation
students (w/ faculty
training), community
advisory board
(reviews quality of
student life, e.g.),
active student
government.
For a small school with
limited campus life
they do quite well.
They stress the ?small
school? theme ? a
school close to home.
Stable presidency with
consistent vision. Not
much use of
institutional data in
decision-making.
School isolated, few
Hispanic faculty, despite
sizeable Hispanic
enrollment.
72
INSTITUTION C
Other
institutional
policies that
affect lowincome
enrollment,
retention, and
graduation
Institution type Student
characteristics
Student
performance
indicators
(entrance, retention,
graduation,
avg. time to degree,
other important info)
Faculty info
(size, student/fac
ratio, % tenured or
track, % race/
ethnicity, other
important info)
Recruitment Admissions Financial aid Developmental
education
Advising
Public HBCU located in
small town. Social
Science, business,
protective services are
largest programs. One
of the highest
graduation rates for
athletes among NCAA
Division II schools.
Approx. 2,000
students, most full
time; 88% in-state
status. 75% Black
and 23% white; 54%
of students live on
campus. 70-80% are
drawn from
surrounding counties,
where many are lowincome.
Many
females, single
parents, firstgeneration
college
students ? first in
their neighborhood to
go to college. Some
come from homes
without phones, let
alone computers.
Housing staffed by
administrators, student
assistants and 24-hour
student service
professionals.
At entrance, many are
underprepared, as area
public schools are poor.
Many redirected to
community college to
get 24 transfer credits
before they enter. 98%
of seniors graduate,
above average
graduation rate for
public institutions in the
state with comparable
SES. High grad rate
among athletes.
Most are full time.
Faculty concerned about
student success,
nurturing. Have caring
attitude, ?willing to go
the extra mile? to help
students. Many are
college alumni. College
recently faced faculty
shortage.
Use alumni in region to
recruit students. School
sells its proximity to
beaches, that it?s
comfortable,
inexpensive (a ?point of
pride?). Recent
emphasis on expanding
enrollment ? using
TV, signs, spots, events
to promote school.
College offers excellent
financial aid package to
high performing
students to compete
with state university.
College is tightening its
admissions standards,
establishing a two-year
foreign language
requirement (2004)
and requiring four units
of high school
mathematics instead of
three (2006). Was
open enrollment before
1989, when state
policy changed. Seek
700-800 SAT (or 17-
18 ACT) and 2.0 GPA.
Try to do quick
turnaround on
applications.
Avg. aid: fed grants
$2,963, state grants
$2,428, institutional
grant $2,740, loans
$3,662. 85% of
undergrads receive aid.
In 1987 established the
Incentive Scholarship
Program, need-based last
dollar program targeted
to relatively wellprepared,
in-state
students who want to
attend on a full-time
basis. Performance
based, but can be
reinstated if lost. Cannot
exceed $3,800; 75% of
Incentive Scholarship
recipients also receive
Pell Grants.
Valedictorians get full
scholarships. Automated
packaging program is
speeding aid program.
Small endowment,
American Indian
scholarships, teacher
education grants, target
men, low-income.
Estimate 80-85% get
some aid.
Chancellor established
a retention task force
linked to the school?s
enrollment
management plan and
chaired by the
Associate Vice
Chancellor; the task
force developed a
strategic plan based
on analysis conducted
by Noel-Levitz.
Specifically, the
objectives are to
increase full-time
freshmen retention
rates 6 percentage
points, second year
students 7 percentage
points, and third year
students 4 percentage
points by 2003. In
addition, the plan calls
for increasing the
graduation rate of
first-time degree
seekers from about
38 to 45% by 2003.
Students must take
developmental courses
if they do not score
above 500 on SAT.
35% of first-time, fulltime
freshmen place in
the development
semester program.
Provides intense
remediation four days
a week in speech,
reading, writing, and/
or mathematics (2
classes, 2 labs per day
in English, 3 classes, 2
labs in math). Students
are re-tested at the end
of their first semester;
about 80-85%
subsequently test-out.
Rather than repeating
elements of the
developmental
semester, students who
do not test-out are
mainstreamed but
provided special
tutoring services. Get
credit for GPA/financial
aid but not graduation.
Very regimented
academic advisement and
counseling system.
System?s linchpin is a
structured ?First Year
Experience.? Program is
very much a ?hand
holding, old-school?
intrusive approach. Each
student is assigned an
academic advisor in their
field of study; faculty and
staff assigned to Program
advise undeclared
students. Students are
advised to declare majors
asap, deadline of
beginning of their third
year. First-year students
required to meet with
advisor 3 times a
semester. Checkpoints:
the week following
posting of mid-term
grades, and prior to preregistration
for the
upcoming semester.
Interventions are
prescribed as appropriate.
Students develop class
schedule in consult w/
advisors, who have final
approval. Add/drops
require adv. signature.
Students positve on prog.,
mid-term reviews.
73
Respondents?
views on
institutional
effectiveness
Site visitors?
views on
institutional
effectiveness
Shaping
students? initial
instructional
program
Typical freshman
education
Academic
support system
Other social
supports
Accommodating
students
Respondents?
views on
institutional
responsibility
Site visitors?
views on
institution,
faculty,
students, etc.
Other important
information
All students must take
placement tests in
English and
mathematics unless
500 or more on the
respective sections of
the SAT. Students
scoring below
placement test cutoff
points are required to
enroll in developmental
courses. Mandatory
orientation program for
new students. Summer
bridge in math.
Undeclared are
recruited by
departments several
times a year.
All newly enrolled
students must register
for the Freshman
Seminar during their
first semester, a onecredit
course designed
to help students gain
knowledge about
university policies,
academic programs, and
college survival skills.
The structured first year
program also includes a
summer reading
assignment, provides a
buddy system and peer
education activities, and
sessions with career
counselors who give
guidance on how to
obtain internship
opportunities in certain
career fields. The typical
freshman carries
between 15-16 credit
hours per semester with
a hard cap of 18 hours.
Freshman to sophomore
summer bridge with
hands-on research
projects. Avg. class size
18 students.
Basic education and
enrichment program:
individual/group/online
peer tutorial services.
Center for special needs
students: academic
support for disabilities
with professional and
peer tutors. ROTC
special programs:
Ranger challenge,
simultaneous
membership, special
challenge. College has
several special programs
aimed at improving
student retention and
graduation. School
sponsors a pre-college
freshman summer
bridge program for 25
students who plan on
majoring in
mathematics or one of
the physical sciences. A
residential summer
bridge program lasts 4-6
weeks providing
participants weekly
stipends. Peer tutors
(33) teach learning
strategies, get mixed
reviews from students.
At-risk sophomore
program (below 2.0
GPA), SSS program.
College inventory
survey administered to
incoming students to
identify those at risk of
failure. Instrument
identifies students with
both marginal and
severe needs by
measuring their
academic motivation
(i.e., study habits),
coping skills (i.e.,
opinion tolerance), and
receptivity to guidance.
At-risk students are
provided special one-onone
services, which
include both academic
and personal
counseling. Peer
mentors regularly visit
with at-risk students
and help monitor their
academic progress.
Events: homecoming,
concerts, dorm
programs, Greek
programs. Dry campus.
Commuter lounge.
Students need to take
initiative to get
involved. Active
residence hall
programs. Theme
housing (Greek, honors,
ROTC, basketball, choir,
etc.) Residence halls
active 24 hours a day.
Students take probation
seriously. Must leave
halls if use drugs,
alcohol. Judicial court.
Limited child care by ed
school, office for student
adaptive needs
(physical and learning
disabilities). Many
students work.
Students who
participated in
discussion group
generally expressed
appreciation for the
parental nature of
advisement services. In
particular, students
endorsed the mandatory
one-on-one sessions
with faculty advisors
immediately following
the mid-term
assessments. Students
talked about being
grounded by the ?reality
check? of such a
consultation, valuing
faculty help in devising
corrective actions.
In general, respondents
said college has handson,
friendly
atmosphere. Institution
wants to improve
retention ? goal is
73% fresh to soph
retention by 2003.
The greatest ?leakage?
occurs between
freshman and
sophomore years.
There are also many
?stop outs? due to both
financial and academic
problems. School sends
letter warning of
possible termination.
They also do exit
interviews to find out
why students leave.
Say students who leave
are unclear about their
goals or have personal
problems. Some good
students transfer to
more prestigious state
university nearby.
Some students are
bored by life in small
community, although
others like it. Older
students sometimes
find the campus too
strict. In general, those
with goals and majors
are more likely to stay.
More than 50 buildings,
?beautiful and modern
campus?; state-of-the-art
library with online
services, bowling alley,
the first planetarium in
the area, aquarium,
greenhouse, 24-track
recording studio, and a
brand new fine arts
complex and academic
computing center.
Large internship
programs in business
economics and
humanities. Career
center holds job fairs
twice a year.
74
INSTITUTION D
Other
institutional
policies that
affect lowincome
enrollment,
retention, and
graduation
Institution type Student
characteristics
Student
performance
indicators
(entrance, retention,
graduation,
avg. time to degree,
other important info)
Faculty info
(size, student/fac
ratio, % tenured or
track, % race/
ethnicity, other
important info)
Recruitment Admissions Financial aid Developmental
education
Advising
Approximately 850
students. Females out
enroll males 2:1. 91%
of freshmen live on
campus; 63% of all
students live on
campus. 56%
graduation rate.
Private HBCU located in
a large city. A
moderately high-cost
institution at almost
$19,500 per year
(with R&B), modestly
selective admissions
policy. Provides degrees
in Arts, Science, and
Music, as well as a
Master?s in Arts.
Avg. entering freshman
has composite SAT of
879 or an ACT of 18.6.
25% of undergraduate
students make the
Dean?s List; 2.6% earn
a 4.0 GPA.
63 FT; 22 PT for FTE of
70.83. 70% of FT
have doctorate; 14.3%
are professors; 59% of
faculty are Black. 167
FT employees.
Students are recruited
nationally and
internationally. Most
students come from
particular states within
the US: Texas,
Michigan, Illinois, Ohio,
and California, but
student body includes
students from 41 states
and 17 countries.
40% admit rate, 32%
enroll. 247 students
enrolled in 2000.
Students with a 2.5 GPA
and ACT score range of
19-20 are admitted.
Have a minimum gap of
2.5 (on a 4.0 scale).
Catalogue lists it as a
selective institution
accepting only students
from the top 5% hs
class (but that does not
appear to be the case).
Policy is that a student
cannot exceed one year,
or have more than 12
semester hours, with
less than a 2.0 GPA.
Each student has an
academic review in the
registration office at the
end of each semester.
This is the first year that
students will be able to
register or access their
transcripts online.
Avg. package
$10,340. Avg. loan
$4,280, avg. Fed.
grant $3,217. Loan
indebtedness ranges
from $20,000 -
$25,000 after four
years. No institutional
work program. Most
institutional financial
aid is merit-based,
which goes to higherincome
(non-Pell)
students at a rate of
75-80%. According to
the financial aid
director, 80% of the
students that leave do
so as a result of
financial difficulty.
Financial aid is
mentioned by the
Career Planning and
Placement Officer as a
major issue because
?low-income students
don?t know where to
get money.? An
ongoing effort of the
Board of Trustees is to
hold an annual
fundraiser for financially
needy students.
Registration officials
noted that students can
repeat a class as many
times as they want and
receive the last grade
as part of their
cumulative GPA. Even
though the institution
does not have an
attendance policy,
professors can require
class attendance.
Institution now requires
that students under 21
live on campus.
Learning Center staff
work with the financial
aid office to ensure
that more students get
the financial support
needed to live on
campus.
Developmental
education is intricately
linked to TRIO program
services. There are
currently 150 students
being served in the
SSS program. The
learning center merges
all of the classes
offered to provide
tutorial support for
students.
Advising process is
constant upon entry.
Freshmen have
freshman exams, they
are assigned faculty
advisors within their
major, and students are
required to declare a
major within their
second year to ensure
faculty support.
75
Respondents?
views on
institutional
effectiveness
Site visitors?
views on
institutional
effectiveness
Shaping
students? initial
instructional
program
Typical freshman
education
Academic
support system
Other social
supports
Accommodating
students
Respondents?
views on
institutional
responsibility
Site visitors?
views on
institution,
faculty,
students, etc.
Other important
information
Learning Center
coordinates freshman
orientation process, and
helps students identify
resources for questions
they may have. Many
freshmen go through a
freshman orientation
process as well as have
a sophomore proficiency
exam. In the future, the
sophomore proficiency
exam will be part of a
standardized testing
process and measure of
institution?s
effectiveness.
47% of classes are
under 10 students;
almost 80% under 25
students. Bridge
program for incoming
students in chemistry,
biology, math, and
science. Students can
participate in a ?course
on learning strategies
designed to help them
reason,? according to a
faculty member.
Though the Learning
Center offers support to
students, the center
location moved
frequently (on their third
move) and changing
location affects student?s
knowledge of where to
go to get assistance.
However, the Center
Staff are trying to make
the center?s programs
more appealing so as to
attract more students as
well as help them
identify where the center
is located. The Learning
Center staff work with
the financial aid office
and student affairs office
to ensure greater
coordination of efforts to
help needy students get
awards and stay in
school. According to
staff in the Registration
office, the academic
counseling center is very
new and is expected to
be a part of the next
wave of collective
coordination.
Additional social
support offered to
students includes
religious services and
student leadership
activities. Provost
states, ?freshmen
orientation extends to
the whole person ... to
dining etiquette, gender
issues, sex, budgeting,
life skills, etc.?
Additionally, ?the
President has a fireside
chat once a month? to
help increase student
retention. Provost
believes in the notion
that ?discipline is what
makes it all successful?
in aiding student
education completion.
Professionals at school
have noted the
institution?s limited
ability to serve the
students needing health
services, technology
support. 91% of
freshmen live on
campus; 63% of all
students live on
campus.
Faculty member in the
science department
mentions the need to
provide assistantships to
students. Additionally,
one faculty member
notes ?we need more
mentoring opportunities
for poorer science
students.? Students,
mentions one faculty
member, are responsible
for their counseling and
tutoring. Counseling is
not viewed as a faculty
requirement.
According to the
Provost, ?practices are
fairly dated.? Student
support center and
counseling services
are located in one
building, student
affairs in another
building. Consolidation
of all student services
is to be implemented
within five to six
months. ?
76
INSTITUTION E
Other
institutional
policies that
affect lowincome
enrollment,
retention, and
graduation
Institution type Student
characteristics
Student
performance
indicators
(entrance, retention,
graduation,
avg. time to degree,
other important info)
Faculty info
(size, student/fac
ratio, % tenured or
track, % race/
ethnicity, other
important info)
Recruitment Admissions Financial aid Developmental
education
Advising
Private four-year HBCU
located in a mid-sized
town 40 miles from the
state capital. A secondchance
institution for
students that didn?t
take their high school
education seriously.
Although this is a
private institution, it
provides a lower cost to
students, once
packaged with aid, than
most public four-year
institutions.
Nearly 50/50 split
male/female. Almost
all full-time students.
99% Black; 55% from
within the state; 64%
reside on campus.
Students are
academically less
prepared than students
at most colleges. Many
are first-generation
students, with poor
academic underpinning
and poorly-rooted
spiritual backgrounds.
Students choose school
for a ?second chance?
opportunity, the low
cost, its size, hands-on
methods, its religious
connection, and
because it is an HBCU.
They don?t get lost in
the crowd here.
Students are led to
understand that they
must learn to give back
to the community, just
as the community,
particularly the
institution, has given to
them. They learn to
respect and be
responsible for others.
7% were in the top
10% of their hs class,
12% in the top 25%,
and 63% in the top
half. 89% fresh to soph
retention, 56%
graduate in 6 yrs. The
campus literally
embodies ?it takes a
village to raise a child?
mantra. Students have
a strong desire to better
their lives. Many of
these students have
been told that they
won?t succeed in life,
let alone academics.
This institution provides
a good moral, social,
interpersonal
intervention for
students. As the tag line
of the college states, it
is about ?The Power of
Potential.?
47 FT faculty. 16:1
ratio. No adjuncts.
Faculty encouraged to
attend conferences to
network with
colleagues and learn
how to improve their
teaching and practical
knowledge. May be a
faculty retention
problem, as some
faculty leave after one
year because they don?t
fit in to the hands-on
philosophy. Also,
salaries relatively low,
with an avg. of
$29,000, well below
national avg.
Recruitment exercises
include visits to
California, Virginia, and
DC ? typically states
that provide out-of-state
financial support to
students.
Open admissions
school, low cost for a
private institution ?
almost all students
receive financial aid.
Attracts students who
have not necessarily
applied themselves
during high school.
Each year the college
incorporates a new
promotional program to
attract students. Last
year it was the Open
Discount Program,
allowing non-traditional
students to work and
study. Students can
early admit during their
junior year if their GPA
is above 3.0 and sign
an intent to enroll;
about half attend.
Admissions works
closely with TRIO
programs; about 3/4
of Upward Bound
students attend
institution.
Tuition and room and
board $11,980 per
year. Over 95% receive
financial aid (25
students of 800+ do
not). Approx. 85%
receive Pell Grants. Aid
office frontloads students
with grants during the
first two years to the
extent that it can. Avg.
student receives $4,000
Pell, $3,100 state aid,
$1,000 SEOG, and
about $1,700 FWS.
That covers almost all
COA. Debt load is lower
than most public
colleges. About half of
students also work, and
half of them have workstudy.
No emergency
aid, but students can use
their Stafford eligibility
as necessary. Financial
aid staff meet with
groups of students
during summer
orientation, closely
counseled not to incur
unnecessary debt. This
past year, the college
promoted a 30-day
scholarship program (in
March), which
essentially reduced cost
of attendance to $500
for eligible students;
over 300 students
applied for this
scholarship.
College is a ?Boot
Camp? for students
who haven?t followed
the traditional academic
path to postsecondary
education. Approach is
religious, paternal, and
strict. Many students
don?t like it initially but
come to appreciate the
college?s hands-on
nature. Students feel
that they can talk to
anyone on campus
about their academic
and personal issues.
Nurturing, safe
environment.
Mandatory ?Chapel
Service? on
Wednesdays at 11am
for one hour, designed
to ?uplift? students.
Guest speakers provide
motivation to students.
Chapel service is an
important strategy to
encourage students to
walk the line, improve
themselves, and persist
to their goals. Faculty
members take
attendance at every
class and provide that
information to the
President. If students
are overly absent (two
times, in some cases),
a letter or phone call
goes home to their
parents. Letter also
sent if dorm rooms not
kept clean.
There are now no
remedial/
developmental courses.
During the past two
years, they have
removed those courses
and created new
courses that provide a
broader learning
experience in the basic
requisites, such as
mathematics, science,
and English (five credit
courses). As one faculty
member remarked,
students felt
stigmatized by taking
the remedial courses.
Must have advisor sign
form in order for
students to register for
classes. As well,
students are required to
meet with their faculty
advisors three times
each semester, but
often do not. This fact
was supported by both
students and faculty.
Each faculty member
advises approximately
15-20 students,
formally and informally.
77
Respondents?
views on
institutional
effectiveness
Site visitors?
views on
institutional
effectiveness
Shaping
students? initial
instructional
program
Typical freshman
education
Academic
support system
Other social
supports
Accommodating
students
Respondents?
views on
institutional
responsibility
Site visitors?
views on
institution,
faculty,
students, etc.
Other important
information
Freshmen take the
Comprehensive
Assessment Program
(CAP) test during
orientation. Test, which
is actually the
Sophomore Proficiency
Exam, is used as a
diagnostic instrument,
and students are placed
accordingly for freshmen
year by score in reading,
writing, and
mathematics.
Mathematics majors
take the McGraw Hill
mathematics exam for
placement. CAP is also
used as an aptitude test
for students? majors.
Incoming students come
onto campus for a 2.5
day orientation during
July with their family.
Entire campus gets
involved in the
freshman orientation
course, which is
attended by 299
freshmen at two
sessions each week, for
credit (2 credits).
Students are told that
their goal is to graduate
with a degree.
Retention is important.
The college community
fosters the atmosphere
to challenge students,
academically and
socially. Faculty
members meet once a
month, and department
chairs once a week.
Retention is often
brought up, since it is a
foundational piece of
the entire college
philosophy. Many
strategies on campus to
help retain students:
academic advising,
support services, the
Writing Center,
Technology Center (in
the library), teacher
education curriculum,
and math and science
labs. Faculty members
encourage students to
attend the Writing
Center and to use
tutors around the
campus.
70% of students (450)
live in one of four
residence halls (two for
men, two for women).
Halls are well
maintained, wired for
Internet and email
(about 50% have their
own computers).
Everyone has access.
Student Services works
closely with fraternities
and sororities on
campus. It seems that
most social activities for
students are
coordinated by these
pan-Hellenic societies.
VP for Student Affairs
estimates that 60% are
involved in one of these
organizations. Student
recreational center has
games and TV for
students, and each
residence hall has a
common area for
students.
Childcare through local
church.
Respondents felt
institution provided a
supportive climate,
faculty were committed
to retention and
students; otherwise,
they wouldn?t be here.
Heard the same from
students. The financial
aid office does a
remarkable job of
distributing aid, making
this a very affordable
small school.
Retention is a priority
on campus, according
to several faculty
members. In
anticipation of site visit,
all faculty on meeting
list were distributed a
retention mantra/guide
from the President. As
one faculty member
stated, ?Retention is
everyone?s business; it
is implicit!? ?This
school does a pretty
good job given the type
of students they get.?
The retention of faculty
is perhaps a greater
problem than the
retention of students.
For a small college,
this is a remarkable
institution. It keeps the
price affordable,
provides a supportive
environment, and is
committed to students
and persistence. It is
pleasing to see an
institution classify itself
as a ?second-chance?
institution. However,
this place isn?t for
everyone. It is
extraordinarily handson,
almost to a
smothering state. But
that?s what makes it
work for many
students.
The faculty are
committed; given small
salaries, they must be.
They do lose faculty,
probably because the
institution is strict. The
president is a topdown,
in control
person, and some
faculty did not like
that. It is also a
religious-based
institution. Students
don?t like the level of
hands-on control, but
similarly, understand it.
This place is helping
them grow up.
78
INSTITUTION F
Other
institutional
policies that
affect lowincome
enrollment,
retention, and
graduation
Institution type Student
characteristics
Student
performance
indicators
(entrance, retention,
graduation,
avg. time to degree,
other important info)
Faculty info
(size, student/fac
ratio, % tenured or
track, % race/
ethnicity, other
important info)
Recruitment Admissions Financial aid Developmental
education
Advising
Public four-year, landgrant
college. School
located in growing
urban area but far from
main population centers
in state. Most common
majors: business,
education, engineering,
social science.
12,500 at main and
branch campuses.
53% female, 50% of
freshmen in campus
housing, 80% of all
students live on or
near campus (more
residential than
commuter institution).
Avg. age for
undergrad is 23.
Many from very small
towns, schools.
Institution seen as BIG
place, attractive to
students (based on
student survey). Little
Greek life.
81% in top half of hs
class. 72% fresh to
soph retention, higher
for females. 10%
graduate in 4 yrs,
41% in 6 yrs, 7% still
enrolled after 6 yrs.
Leaving in sophomore
and junior years
bigger problem than
freshman.
96% FT. 17:1 ratio.
650 tenure-track
faculty: 85% white,
10% Hispanic (staff is
44% Hispanic), 34%
female. 82% have
terminal degree. Reg.
load is 12 credits.
Tenure-track teach 54%
of hours (71% upper
div).
No formal recruitment
targets but would like
small overall increase
and substantial
increase in Native
Americans. 6 recruiters
(but faculty, extension
officials, staff, all
help), multiple visits to
all high schools in
state, school events,
etc. Compete w/
other state schools on
aid primarily (yield 48-
49%). Considered
?best buy? in national
publications but there
are cheaper in-state
alternatives. Discuss
scholarships w/
attractive candidates,
offer attractive
financial aid package
to low-income students
with high
performance.
?Slightly selective? 2.5
GPA and college prep
curriculum (2.0-2.4 ok
w/ 20 ACT or 21 if
below 2.0). Many
applicants lack a math
credit (can enroll in
contiguous cc branch
campus to get it).
Before 1987, institution
was open admission.
There are few
conditional admits.
Goals: 1% increase in
overall enrollment each
year. 800 rejected a
year ? most lack 1
credit. 600 (all levels)
transfer per year from
CC and 4-yr colleges
(mostly branches).
Avg. package: 47% gift
aid, 49% loans, 4%
work-study. Avg.
award: $6,000 (cost:
$12,000). 92% get
some aid. Typical
package: 23% gift,
36% loan, 3% workstudy
17% state/other
scholar, 22% other.
Best freshman
package: 65% gift
(others 60%), typical
for on-campus
freshmen: 61% gift
plus loan and workstudy.
State
scholarship: free tuition
w/ 2.5GPA after first
semester. There is an
all grant aid state
program for highly
talented low-income
students.
Major institutional
goals: retention
(concern w/
sophomore to junior
retention especially);
academic reform (e.g.,
seeking alternatives to
developmental ed,
implementing learning
communities); teaching
quality (push to
consider teaching
quality in hiring,
tenure); more Hispanic
faculty.
No developmental ed.
Unofficially: intro math
courses provide
remediation, there is lots
of free tutoring for other
classes and SI
accompanies gatekeeper
courses. College
encourages simultaneous
coursetaking at branches
that offer the same
course if students are
experiencing difficulty.
Community college next
door good place for
taking math, other
courses.
Small group advising in
summer for new
freshmen. After that,
differs by college.
Health, arts/science,
education, and business
use professional
counselors.
Engineering, agriculture
use faculty. Web-based
registration allows
bypass of advising after
freshman year (some
colleges rethinking
this). Some faculty
directive (e.g., tell
student to avoid tough
teachers, change
colleges, etc.), others
not. Freshman
orientation course w/
advising taken by some
students in all colleges.
Est. 20-30 advisees per
faculty. Also advising
provided in ethnic/
affinity programs, SSS,
peer mentoring
programs.
79
Respondents?
views on
institutional
effectiveness
Site visitors?
views on
institutional
effectiveness
Shaping
students? initial
instructional
program
Typical freshman
education
Academic
support system
Other social
supports
Accommodating
students
Respondents?
views on
institutional
responsibility
Site visitors?
views on
institution,
faculty,
students, etc.
Other important
information
Limited efforts until
recently. Main effort
beyond advising:
freshman experience
course (FYE) w/
advising, study skills,
careers, etc. Noted by
respondents: small class
size a plus (for
freshmen: most have
25 or less, a few 60-
100 w/ assistants).
Institution studied
?barrier courses? and
try to advise against
enrolling right away;
developing academic
support for those
classes. Some colleges
do more, esp Ag,
Engineering: intrusive
advising, group study,
tutoring, internships,
etc. Introducing learning
community programs in
several colleges.
Survey of students
showed that positive
classroom instruction
and interaction was the
thing they liked best
about campus. Avg.
class size: lower div 39,
upper div 22. Typical
course load below 15
units (many take 12).
Many on academic
probation but most
improve. Lots of gen ed
at first. Some advisors
urge repeating courses
where D was earned
(but this is changing
because doing so would
preclude free tuition
state scholarship).
Wide range of support
available, differs by
college or dept. Lots of
free tutoring, group
study options.
Campus wide:
learning, writing
centers. Affinity, home
base programs also
offer academic support
through tutoring,
internships etc. Some
SI or mastery classes
in intro science courses
(extra unit credit). In
past, more SI and
developmental ed ?
now moved to branch
community college.
SSS (350) has
tutoring. Ag school has
30 student
organizations with
peer mentoring, job
experience, etc.
Engineering has
minority programs.
Over 300 student
organizations. Most
students join something.
Also student
government, housing
activities. Associated
students an important
force (got a ?fall break?
instituted recently).
Students positive about
social life on campus.
Strong sense of
community, links w/
faculty. Staff/faculty
volunteer at events,
games. Open door
policy (students can
drop in on faculty). Half
of freshmen in dorms
? lots of social
activities.
Large numbers of
students work on
campus, through workstudy
and other campus
jobs. School estimates
70-80% work on
campus or in nearby
communities. Efforts to
schedule courses to
accommodate work
schedules, which are a
financial necessity.
Some concern w/ time
to degree for those
taking light loads, but
can?t do much. Child
care available ? est.
20% are single parents.
1) Focus on retention.
2) Maintain small
campus feel. 3) Campus
looks good (student
survey). 4) Range of
academic support. 5)
Faculty/staff interaction
w/students. 6)
Developmental help in
freshman courses. 7)
Group work built into
instruction. 8) Faculty
open door. 9) Classroom
interaction #1 in student
survey. 10) Admission
requirements. 11) Half
of freshmen live on
campus. 12) Lots of
opportunities for
suspended to reinstate.
13) Caring faculty,
rewards for good
teaching. 14) Feeling of
community. 15) Affinity
groups, many
organizations. 16)
Hispanics prominent, role
models. 17) Student
time w/FT faculty higher
than elsewhere. 18)
Dept. minority progs.
19) Strong student work
ethic.
Frequent academic
probation, suspension,
but clear routes to
reinstatement. May be
that faculty advisors in
tough programs
(engineering, sciences)
encourage transfer to
other colleges,
programs, but clearly
some just don?t have
backgrounds for
science. Concern that
some take too few
credits (so they can
work), take too long to
graduate. Respondents
also say students leave
for financial reasons,
work and scheduling
problems, lose free
tuition (new program
? new problem),
families exert pressures
to work, help out
(don?t understand
demands of college),
very poor feel guilty
spending money for
college. Some students
want more prestigious
school.
Largely concur with
respondents? views.
Additional important
factors may be: 1) labs,
group work in many
courses; 2) location far
from state?s population
center means few
?casual? students; 3)
students get credits at
leisurely pace; 4) few
special admits; 5)
largely traditional age
undergrads; 6) few
initially part-time
students; 7) active
recruitment for lowincome,
talented
students (because of
state scholarships); 8)
experiential education in
Ag, engineering, other
fields; 9) low-income
aren?t isolated ?
perception is most are
low-income. No stigma.
10) 3,000 (!) work on
campus.
Same positive views of
campus expressed by
full range of
respondents. Almost no
one had discordant
views. New arrivals
among staff particularly
impressed with campus
atmosphere.
80
INSTITUTION G
Other
institutional
policies that
affect lowincome
enrollment,
retention, and
graduation
Institution type Student
characteristics
Student
performance
indicators
(entrance, retention,
graduation,
avg. time to degree,
other important info)
Faculty info
(size, student/fac
ratio, % tenured or
track, % race/
ethnicity, other
important info)
Recruitment Admissions Financial aid Developmental
education
Advising
Four-year private
university in urban
center. Two main
campuses total
13,500 students,
9,000 of whom are
undergrads, 5,800,
main campus. Profile
calls it ?moderately
difficult? on selectivity.
Common majors:
business/marketing,
computer/info science,
health. Little
interaction among
staffs across the
campuses.
13% Black, 11%
Hispanic, 14% Asian,
34% white, 11%
international, 17%
unknown. Majority are
first-generation college
students from the
urban area where
school is located. 58%
male, 23% residential,
average age: 26
(including grad
students). Many are
from immigrant
families. Many work,
some at 2-3 jobs; they
don?t ask parents for
help. May attend here
for convenience,
relatively low tuition.
Entering SATs: 47% over
500; 60% verbal, 73%
math, over 500. Est.
70% fresh to soph
retention; of those who
stay, 90% will finish the
third year. 28%
graduate in 4 yrs, 52%
in 6 yrs. 6 yr rate for
Pell recipients same as
all students. 6 yr rate
for special admits is
32%.
38% FT. 23:1 ratio. IR
director says faculty
emphasis on teaching
over research. Faculty
provides personal
attention, advising,
nurture students. Many
are alumni. Students
say too many PT and
adjunct faculty.
No special efforts to
recruit low-income or
underrep students
(summer bridge
program discontinued
because of $). Runs a
special fresh yr program
for low-income, minority
special admit students,
however. Try to be
welcoming, diverse,
family-oriented campus.
Modestly selective. 75% get an institutional
grant (avg. $6,311) and
67% get loan (avg.
$3,670). Avg. Pell
$2,749, 55% receive it.
54% get state grants
(avg. $3,346). Tuition is
$17,030. No info on %
of costs covered by
typical grants/loan pkg.
Special admits pay
additional $500 per
semester and can?t get
institutional aid. Small
endowment, institutional
grants that consider merit
and need (avg.
$9,300). Students say
financial aid is
bureaucracy but
workshops are run in
many languages.
Officials think $ a factor
in leaving before
graduating.
President accessible to
students through online
chats.
No developmental ed for
most students. Special
admit program has
developmental
component with small
classes, tutoring,
Professional advising
first semester. All
students assigned to
faculty advisors
thereafter for more
structured, guided
advising with course
sequence for all four
years laid out by
faculty. Faculty teach a
course for freshmen
called Univ 101, which
includes study skills,
academic planning,
career planning, etc.
and provide advising.
Students not terribly
positive about advising
quality. Students with
GPA below 2.0 are
targeted for intrusive
advising within
individual colleges.
81
Respondents?
views on
institutional
effectiveness
Site visitors?
views on
institutional
effectiveness
Shaping
students? initial
instructional
program
Typical freshman
education
Academic
support system
Other social
supports
Accommodating
students
Respondents?
views on
institutional
responsibility
Site visitors?
views on
institution,
faculty,
students, etc.
Other important
information
Students advised to
take no more than 15
units first semester.
Most classes are small
? avg. of 22
students.
New first-year discovery
program with linked
courses, team teaching.
Students do a co-op in
their sophomore year.
Summer programs in
some colleges (e.g.,
nursing, accounting).
Special admit program
for low-income,
minority students who
show promise but do
not meet regular
entrance requirements.
Those students have a
structured freshman
year experience with
intensive work in the
liberal arts core
curriculum, advising,
academic support
services, small classes,
peer or faculty tutoring.
Weekend/evening
tutoring, learning center
(use is high), first year
discovery program, cooperative
education.
Many ethnic affinity
programs, academic
clubs. These are often
hard for working
students to attend.
There are leadership
opportunities. Multicultural
events are well
attended.
No day care due to
budget cuts. Health
awareness and wellness
programs, counseling.
It is often hard for
working students to get
to classes.
Respondents attribute
success to small class
sizes (avg. class size of
22) and dedicated
faculty. Faculty
emphasize teaching
over research. Also laud
honors program, workstudy,
cooperative
education. Mention
improved advising,
residence halls.
Officials not satisfied
with current retention/
graduation rates.
Business students
proud to be at college,
say faculty are good,
like new cornerstone
course that incorporates
fieldwork.
Officials say 80% leave
for reasons other than
money ? many
transfer to other
colleges (publics that
are cheaper), lack
skills, have intense
family demands, job
demands, or have a
culture conflict in
attending college.
Institution didn?t know
its record w/ Pell
recipients until it did
an analysis for site
visit. Institution has
not paid particular
attention to this issue
and officials were
surprised by findings
that grad rate for Pell
recipients was the
same as for institution
as a whole.
82
INSTITUTION H
Other
institutional
policies that
affect lowincome
enrollment,
retention, and
graduation
Institution type Student
characteristics
Student
performance
indicators
(entrance, retention,
graduation,
avg. time to degree,
other important info)
Faculty info
(size, student/fac
ratio, % tenured or
track, % race/
ethnicity, other
important info)
Recruitment Admissions Financial aid Developmental
education
Advising
Public four-year, landgrant
HBCU with
approximately 3,600
students, most
attending full-time.
Located in a small rural
town. The university
offers over 60
baccalaureate programs
in the areas of applied
professional sciences,
engineering technology,
sciences, arts,
humanities, education,
and business. College
has a small number of
master?s level
programs. Largest
enrollment in
engineering technology
and sciences, followed
by applied professional
sciences. Together,
those two areas
account for 43% of
total enrollment.
58% female; 95%
Black; 89% full time,
66% in-state; in-state
students come from
over 118 high schools.
This is a second choice
institution for many
students. 1,880
students live in
residence halls (there
is a waiting list). Large
percentage of students
engage in the Greek
system. Intramural
sports are very
popular, and many
students participate in
step show, gospel
choir, Young
Democrats, ASUB, and
NAACP. College has a
strong ROTC program
and produces many
minority military
officers.
Avg. entering freshman
SAT is 867. University
receives 3,700
applicants, of whom
40% are admitted, and
15% (569 students)
enroll. No year-to-year
retention data. 45%
graduate in 6 yrs.
96% FT. 16:1 ratio. No
large lecture classes.
Students described
certain faculty members
as individuals who
helped them in one-onone
situations when
they were struggling.
The faculty knew
students by name in
most cases. This strong
bond also acts as an
early warning system
for students. Main
atmosphere is ?in loco
parentis?, intrusive in
support services that
help students to
succeed.
Institution did not have
a concept of enrollment
management or
marketing, and until
2000, was in a crisis,
with freshman
enrollment in steady
decline. Brought up
from 570 to 616 in
?01 and 720 in ?02.
Now they are trying to
stabilize the student
population. Institution
that students choose
mostly because they
can get in and because
it is relatively low cost.
Avg. SAT for incoming
students is 867. For
first-time entering
freshmen, major
emphasis is placed on
successful completion of
all required college
preparatory courses (as
determined by the
state), GPA, and class
rank. SAT I or ACT score
is evaluated in
conjunction with hs
scholastic achievement.
Provisional admission
status if SAT/ACT score
is greater than 830/17
but GPA is less than
2.00, or if SAT/ACT
score is greater than
750/15 and GPA is
greater than 2.00.
Students can be
admitted with lower
scores if they participate
in the Student Support
Services program.
Relatively affordable
(in-state tuition around
$4K). 82% receive Pell
grants; 40% receive
max Pell. Aid office tries
to provide students with
SEOG grant, and does
their best to forego
loans during freshman
year. All institutional aid
is merit-based; the
Presidential Scholarship
requires SAT of 1200 or
higher; second level is
Honors (valedictorians
? high achievers).
State need-based
program used to provide
additional support to
high achieving Pell
grant students, requires
a B average, 70th
percentile or higher in
hs, SAT greater than
1100. Emergency
money is available via a
donor that gave $10k
in revolving funds. State
deficit is causing major
problems for the
financial aid office.
Financial aid
department conducts a
debt management class
and now boasts a 4%
default rate, down from
19% in 1987.
University does not
offer any
developmental courses,
as mandated by state
legislature, so students
must now take these
courses at a
community college.
Students do not get
degree credits for
certain courses in math
that are offered, which
are developmental in
nature, but they do
count for aid.
In order to register,
students must see an
advisor, who will then
give the student a PIN
number to login for
online registration.
Drop/adds also require
an advisor?s signature.
Students must declare
a major by the end of
the freshman year or
they stay in the
Freshman Program for
additional advising.
However, one student
told us that he never
did find his advisor.
Faculty are not required
to turn in mid-term
grades. At-risk students
have double advising:
a faculty person and a
counselor for Freshman
Studies.
83
Respondents?
views on
institutional
effectiveness
Site visitors?
views on
institutional
effectiveness
Shaping
students? initial
instructional
program
Typical freshman
education
Academic
support system
Other social
supports
Accommodating
students
Respondents?
views on
institutional
responsibility
Site visitors?
views on
institution,
faculty,
students, etc.
Other important
information
School runs a
summer orientation
for freshman
students preceding
fall semester.
Orientation leaders
are very visible and
continue to provide
role model and
mentoring for
students after
orientation week.
Students take
placement exams
during summer
orientation.
All freshman are
required to take
Freshman Seminar 101,
which is taught in 29
sections each semester.
Students receive two
credits for the course.
Instructor of the
freshman seminar also
acts as student?s advisor
for that semester.
According to students,
Freshman 101 helped
with time management
and the teachers
interacted with students
outside of class, kind of
like parents.
Student Success Center
offers both group and
individual tutoring. An
important part of this
program is an early
alert system for faculty
to contact the program
about students in
need. The
?Psychometric?
program provides
counseling, tutoring,
and psychiatric
evaluation for
students. Testing labs
are available for the
teacher education
program (PRAXIS).
SOCKET program is a
multiplatform delivery
of instruction that is
competency based.
Program is content
driven (e.g.,
elementary
mathematics), and is
campus-wide across all
schools/disciplines.
Student-sponsored
organizations also
conduct tutorial
assistance, and there is
a writing lab (part of
writing across the
curriculum) and
computer labs (in just
about all academic
buildings and through
specific subject matter
areas) available for
students.
Students whose
entrance placement
exams are low get
support through
Freshman studies for
tutoring; the
mathematics dept.
provides additional
math tutoring. The
University has a Speech
major and a Speech
clinic for diagnosing
speech problems.
Writing and critical
thinking center are
under the freshman
center. Speech is
required of all students.
All students take a
math and English
placement exam.
Students have
complained about
safety on campus.
Student parking areas
are in ?not safe? areas,
and students also
expressed safety
concerns around
housing ? lack of
good security.
Enrollment
management director
felt there was a major
problem with faculty
attitude. Faculty and
staff at the university
were not customerservice
oriented. Also a
problem in perception
? for instance, when
the EM director came
on board, the president
thought the college had
83% graduation rate
? twice what it really
was. Now that they
have data, they see it
needs work. However,
this will take ?Patience
to the 3rd Power,?
according to the
director.
1) Faculty members
have high expectations
for students, but staff
need to be more
customer-oriented
toward students. Main
atmosphere is ?in loco
parentis?, intrusive in
support services that
help students to
succeed. (2) Friendly,
supportive atmosphere
kept students at this
institution, and
students who left did
not participate in the
campus activities. (3)
University has gone
through a leadership
problem period, and
that has not been
helpful. (3) Needs to
expand on the current
support services on
campus; what they
currently provide
seems to work, but
they need to do more
of it. (4) Resident
halls and activities for
students are sub-par at
best. (5) Not a huge
financial aid issue, but
institution could use
more need-based aid.
Faculty and staff
appeared to be
committed to the
university and retention.
Students appreciated
the campus. Being an
HBCU helps to a certain
degree; everyone gets
the message and
understands that the
university is their
?village.?
Student life on campus
is a major problem.
According to the housing
director, residence halls
are ?very poor?, old
physical structures,
problems with water,
storage space, and
electrical wiring. 1,880
students live in the
halls, and there is a
waiting list. According to
students, several had to
find temporary housing
in town because there
was no on-campus
space. Each hall has
monitors, but not an
organized residence life
program. Individual
rooms are not wired for
technology, so students
cannot access their
email from their rooms.
All students voiced
concerns about the
facilities, particularly
housing; one student
was embarrassed that
university is in such poor
condition. The room
assignment process for
housing was
bureaucratic and late
? several students lost
their room assignments
because of financial
need for a $150
deposit.
84
INSTITUTION I
Other
institutional
policies that
affect lowincome
enrollment,
retention, and
graduation
Institution type Student
characteristics
Student
performance
indicators
(entrance, retention,
graduation,
avg. time to degree,
other important info)
Faculty info
(size, student/fac
ratio, % tenured or
track, % race/
ethnicity, other
important info)
Recruitment Admissions Financial aid Developmental
education
Advising
Public four-year
university. Several
branch campuses, with
total of 14,000
undergrad and grad
students; approximately
7,600 on main
campus. Largest
number of degrees in
education, criminal
justice, accounting, and
nursing.
54% white, 27%
Black, 2% Hispanic,
14% unknown; 56%
female. Many come
from surrounding
rural/small town
areas, characterized as
conservative, religious.
37% are firstgeneration.
30% at
main campus in
residence hall or
university apt. Also 11
sorority/frat houses
? over half of
students plan on Greek
living ? and most
others live near
campus.
Administrators see
school as residential,
students w/strong
work ethic, motivated
educationally and
economically.
Avg. entering ACT is
20.9. 38% in top
quartile of hs class, and
72% in top half. 74%
fresh to soph retention.
43% graduate in 6 yrs.
28:1 ratio. Faculty say
teaching is primary
mission of institution,
consider 23:1 low ratio
facilitating teaching.
Frosh classes taught by
FT faculty.
Draw largely from 15
county area, largely
rural and small towns.
School is cheaper than
some others in area but
about the same as other
state colleges. No
specific low-income
targets in recruiting but
area from which they
draw is heavily lowincome
and firstgeneration.
Want to
increase #s of distance
learners, transfer
students.
Admission criteria: 1)
2.0 GPA, 18 ACT or
870 SAT; 2) 15
Carnegie units incl. 3 in
English. Have
articulation agreements
to facilitate transfers
from many other
institutions.
Annual in-state tuition
and fees: $3,296. Full
cost of attendance:
$8,100 for residents.
74% get some aid. Avg.
Pell $3,750, plus avg.
$2,000 in loans. (est.
avg. indebtedness at
graduation: $17,125.)
Scholarship program is
merit-based (31 ACT
and 3.7 GPA qualifies).
Priority deadline for
financial aid is relatively
late (May 1), good for
low-income students.
Low default rate
(4.2%).
Fresh under 19 must
live in residence halls.
Course repeats allowed,
second grade holds.
Conditional admits
must attend
counseling/advising
and fresh orientation
course. Undecided
majors must take
career class.
ACT/SAT scores or
placement exams used
to determine need for
developmental ed.
30% need math and/
or English. Completion
of developmental ed is
flexible. Lots of free
tutoring available for
students who have
difficulty in regular
courses.
Professional advising
for undeclareds. No
requirement to see
advisor for those w/
majors even if on
probation. Liberal
course drop policy.
85
Respondents?
views on
institutional
effectiveness
Site visitors?
views on
institutional
effectiveness
Shaping
students? initial
instructional
program
Typical freshman
education
Academic
support system
Other social
supports
Accommodating
students
Respondents?
views on
institutional
responsibility
Site visitors?
views on
institution,
faculty,
students, etc.
Other important
information
Summer orientation for
first year students.
Undergrad majors are
primarily in professional
fields that have highly
prescribed curricula by
sophomore year.
30% take
developmental math or
English. All must take
one credit required
freshman orientation
course. 12 units is
typical load and not just
in first year. Entering
students take a core
curric of 42 units w/
exit testing before
courses in majors. No
SI. Starting various
reforms ? learning
communities, structured
first year programs.
Learning center for
writing, natural
sciences, general
computer lab. Offers
writing across
curriculum, tutoring,
developmental classes.
Many colleges/depts
offer free tutoring, have
projects to work w/
students on academic
probation, study skills
workshops. Tutoring/
academic support
program for athletes.
Strong student affairs
component promotes
residence hall
activities, counseling,
career, disabilities
centers. Lots of clubs
(over 100),
organizations, Greek
(including black);
participation high. Use
many Noel-Levitz
products, first year
mentoring program,
200 students
participate in residence
life living/learning
communities (new).
No SSS (had one in
past).
Limited child care,
office for student
adaptive needs
(physical and learning
disabilities). Many
students work.
1) homogeneous
student values: rural
work ethic rural. 2)
residential campus ?
requirement for fresh
residence on campus.
3) faculty share same
backgrounds as
students, give
appropriate advice. 4)
liberal course repeat
policy, liberal
probation/suspension
policy. 5) advising
requirements for
conditional admits. 6)
freshman orientation
course.
Same items cited in
institutional
effectiveness.
1) Relatively high avg.
entering ACT score
(21) and hs rank
(higher than
institutional
requirements). 2)
Residential campus. 3)
Students share values,
beliefs across racial
lines, including strong
work ethic. 4) Many
faculty/staff are
alumni, respect
students like selves,
serve as role models,
have personal stake in
student outcomes. 5)
History of active
concern w/retention,
setting targets;
important institutional
goal to increase
retention ? reiterated
by wide range of
respondents.
Because many faculty
and staff attended
institution and come
from the area, they
have a strong sense
that the students can
succeed. They take
responsibility for student
outcomes.
86
INSTITUTION J
Other
institutional
policies that
affect lowincome
enrollment,
retention, and
graduation
Institution type Student
characteristics
Student
performance
indicators
(entrance, retention,
graduation,
avg. time to degree,
other important info)
Faculty info
(size, student/fac
ratio, % tenured or
track, % race/
ethnicity, other
important info)
Recruitment Admissions Financial aid Developmental
education
Advising
Private four-year rural
HBCU. Enrollment of
over 2,400 and annual
tuition and fee charges
of $10,500. 58% of
students receive Pell,
and 43% of students
graduate within 6
years. Engineering is
the largest program on
campus, followed by
health, natural sciences,
and business.
Over 95% Black, and
nearly two thirds are
female. 96% are full
time. Students come
from around the US,
and half from within
the state. Freshmen,
sophomores, and all
first-year transfer
students are required
to live in the residence
halls. The school and
student body have a
strong religious
underpinning, and
religion is a strong
presence on campus.
Students are energetic
and motivated to learn.
Greek life is big at this
university, as is choir
singing.
27% have a 500
math or verbal SAT
score. School describes
admissions as
moderately selective.
71% fresh to soph
retention in 2000-01,
77% in 2001-02, 43%
graduate in 6 yrs.
Faculty is 328, 90%
FT. 10:1 ratio.
Students say that
faculty take your hand
and want to make
you succeed, and can
go talk to faculty at
any time about
academic and nonacademic
issues.
Recruit nationally for
students, but also have
special targeting
programs within the
home state. Use
institutional aid mostly
for merit-based programs
to recruit gifted students.
Somewhat selective
college, looking for
academically gifted
students. Alumni are
heavily involved in
recruiting around the
state and around the
country. The university
also uses current
students to visit their old
high schools on semester
breaks and hand out
recruitment information.
Rolling admissions
policy allows for more
flexibility in packaging
students. Minimum GPA
is 2.0, avg. is 3.0.
Students are
?encouraged? in
literature to have an
SAT above 1000 in
order to succeed.
Conditional admittance
policy for students who
have less than 2.5 GPA,
720 SAT, or 15 ACT.
91% receive some type
of financial assistance,
and 85% receive federal
aid. The aid office
attempts to frontload
grants as much as
possible. In addition to
the federal funds, they
also work with banks,
Sallie Mae, and Plato
for alternative loan
programs. The state
grant program provides
up to $2,500 per year
to eligible students.
There is little need-based
institutional aid, and
what exists is fading
fast. Institutional aid is
merit-based. The
university is very strict
about institutional aid
funds, and when
students lose
scholarships, they never
get them back.
Retention is a focus;
retention program staff
are housed in the Office
of the President.
Provide tutoring and
other skill development
activities. Institutional
life is important, and
having students live on
campus for first two
years helps retention.
Conditional admits must
take part in retention
programming. At the
end of May, Provost
sends out a list of
students with less than
a 2.0 GPA. Retention
staff reviews each
student. Conditional
admits must earn a GPA
above 2.0 for the full
year in order to register
for sophomore year.
Students who do earn
less than a 2.0 GPA
must write an essay
stating why this
happened.
It does not appear that
institution has
developmental
programming.
Advising appears to be
a new problem on this
campus. Since the
installation of
telephone and now
online registration
system, students do
not have to see their
advisor. They are
strongly encouraged,
but most students do
not meet, and faculty
see this as a problem.
Students do say that
they end up discussing
academic and course
issues with faculty
informally. Mid-term
reports are sent to
parents if student is
failing, and students
who earn less than a
2.0 GPA are put on
probation.
87
Respondents?
views on
institutional
effectiveness
Site visitors?
views on
institutional
effectiveness
Shaping
students? initial
instructional
program
Typical freshman
education
Academic
support system
Other social
supports
Accommodating
students
Respondents?
views on
institutional
responsibility
Site visitors?
views on
institution,
faculty,
students, etc.
Other important
information
Summer orientation
provides an initial
dialogue about courses.
Freshman take 18
credits per semester.
Freshman students,
including transfers,
must take a one-credit
freshman seminar
course and pass that
course. It will be
broadened to a twosemester,
two-credit
hour program. Students
are supposed to enter
with their major
declared, but one-third
of the freshman class is
undeclared.
Tutorial services
provided for students
during Sunday through
Thursday evenings at
various locations around
campus. Sunday
session runs all day and
is busiest day of
operation. Program is
centralized, covering
the five colleges. 75%
of freshman receive
tutoring. Colleges
provide their own
programs as well.
Biology has a creditbearing
seminar
program that they feel
is very good compared
to the campus-wide
version. 375 students
participate in the
college?s Student
Support Services
program.
Institution has extensive
work-study program;
institution offers 48
apartment units for
graduate students with
families, and special
units for 500 upper
classmen.
Faculty believes
institution does good
job of retention, and
isn?t sure how it can do
much better (even
though they feel that it
could be better).
Faculty-student
relationships are
important. Campus has
a familial environment
that nurtures students.
According to students,
institution offers them a
sense of family, where
everyone sticks
together. Building on
the personal touch
issue, the campus is a
safe, gated community.
Institution is effective
because they have a
retention plan and
work hard to
implement it. Campus
is a wonderful
environment, and the
culture is friendly.
Students are hardworking.
The cost of
the institution takes
away from retention,
and the use of
institutional aid on
merit is a negative.
Students complained in
typical fashion,
especially about
residence halls and
visitation rules.
However, they felt it is
a good institution and
that faculty cares about
them.

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and evaluation, as well as policy education and leadership
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Foundation bases its mission on the belief that postsecondary
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