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Awards / Honors

CSU receives peer-reviewed award for student retention, support program

September 28, 2012

Colorado State University has received the Overall Excellence Award by EBI MAP-Works via a peer-reviewed committee with representatives from 11 colleges, universities and institutes.

CSU students on campus during the fallCSU was selected from an extensive applicant pool because of the university’s comprehensive integration of the MAP-Works student success and retention project on campus.

MAP-Works helps the university retain students in their first year by identifying early where they are succeeding and where they may fall behind, as well as identifying stress, homesickness and other concerns that may impact their performance. Participating students receive a customized report highlighting their strengths and areas of improvement during a one-on-one meeting with their resident assistant or, in the case of first year students who live off campus, a member of the Off Campus Life staff.  The 2012 assessment is currently underway; 92 percent of first year students in the residence halls have completed the survey.

Broad questions measure student experience

The MAP-Works assessment is based on a 150-question, voluntary survey given a few weeks into fall semester. The questions ask students about virtually all aspects of their collegiate experience including study habits, stress levels, academic confidence, time management, class attendance, mental health concerns, campus involvement, and sense of belonging.

“Of all the students who will leave the university from a given first-year cohort, more than half will do so by the end of their freshman year,” says Paul Thayer, associate vice president for Student Affairs and special advisor to the Provost for retention. “This early indication of where students are doing well and where they are struggling is so important because it gives students an opportunity to correct their course, and if necessary, seek resources before falling behind or deciding to leave the university.”

Interaction improtant for student rention

A recent Noel-Levitz study found that half of the students who leave their university never had a significant interaction with a faculty member, staff member, or resident assistant.

“Leading up to those one-on-one conversations, residence directors and assistant residence directors coach RAs on how to have meaningful conversations about assisting students and making referrals to university resources,” says Teresa Metzger, assistant director of Residence Education.

More private and detailed information about a student including homesickness, academic concerns, mental health, and behavior risks are shared with professional staff who refer students to resources on campus.

“These efforts have helped develop a culture of care to make critical referrals to help students become successful in their first year at CSU,” Metzger said.

Review of the fall 2010 CSU cohort shows that 85 percent of the students who completed the survey and met with their RA were retained by CSU, compared to a 66 percent retention rate among students who neither completed the survey nor met with their RA.

“Although we can’t definitively say that MAP-Works increases retention rates, this outreach along with many Student Success Initiatives, may have positively impacted first year retention rates,” said Gaye DiGregorio, executive director of the Center for Advising and Student Achievement.

Assessment helps develop strategies

The assessment also helps Student Affairs staff members develop specific retention strategies.

“One out of every 10 students at CSU indicate that they are ‘extremely homesick’ to the point of it distressing them and having an impact on academics,” said Laura Giles, Director of Residence Life.  “Knowing that, we have been able to connect students to RAs, other hall staff, and student leadership programs to help students feel welcomed, connected, and supported both inside the classroom and outside the classroom to boost retention.”

These efforts show. CSU consistently ranks higher than peers in MAP-Works factors related to On-Campus Living Environment including sense of belonging, residence hall environment and social aspects of the halls.

“As an RA it is a strenuous process to meet with each resident individually,” says Nathan Melia, a fourth year RA in Aspen Hall. “But if we take the time to do this it has a positive effect on our relationship because it helps me do things differently and tailor each interaction to what my resident currently needs. Ultimately, graduation is the goal.”

Student and RA meetings have begun and will continue through October 10.

Colorado State began early intervention and support efforts in 2000 and has been participating in the MAP-Works program since 2007. The MAP-works program is a collaboration among Residence Life, Off Campus Life, CASA and Student Success Initiatives.  More than 1,500 colleges and universities participate in the program.

Contact: Dell Rae Moellenberg
Phone: (970) 491-6009