University of Toledo student retention increased sharply as the institution continued its efforts to increase academic standards and require additional academic preparedness from incoming students.
“As we prepared for recruitment last fall, UT’s Board of Trustees and President Lloyd Jacobs directed us to place greater emphasis on the recruiting and retaining of students with a higher level of academic preparedness, and we’re right where we expected to be,” said Lawrence J. Burns, vice president for external affairs and interim vice president for equity and diversity, who oversees UT enrollment efforts.
As of Jan. 24’s 15-day census, UT enrolled 21,108 students, a 2.3 percent drop from this time last year. The University’s full-time equivalency (FTE) — the figure used to determine state subsidy — is 17,798. FTE is calculated by the total number of course credit hours taken by students divided by 15 and often conveys a more accurate representation of the way enrollment affects an institution’s finances.
Burns said a strategy including higher admission standards in several academic colleges, deferral of several hundred underprepared students in the fall semester, and focused scholarship programs like the Blue & Gold Scholar Award already had shown increased academic achievement among UT students.
Kevin Kucera, associate vice president for enrollment services, pointed to a 7 percentage point increase in retention rates for direct from high school students from last fall to the current semester as compared to last year. The return rate jumped 14 points for Blue & Gold Scholars from fall to the current semester up to 92 percent from last year.
“We’re keeping a far greater percentage of the students we recruited this fall and that is exactly because we’re recruiting students who are more academically prepared,” Kucera said, noting that the college grade point averages of Blue & Gold Scholars jumped nearly 0.6 points from Fall 2009 to Fall 2010.
Spring 2011 also will mark the final census report for several colleges that were created or merged following the reorganization of the academic enterprise late last year.
“The elevation of the new Honors College along with more prominent colleges in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences will all serve to attract high-quality students,” Jacobs said, “as will the new Judith Herb College of Education, Health Science and Human Service.”
Jacobs also pointed out that the newly formed colleges of Innovative Learning and Adult and Lifelong Learning will be leaders in helping colleges, schools and departments retain the students that select to pursue their degrees at UT.