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Office of Student Affairs Update from the Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Rob Flot

Student success, with a focus on the retention rate of first-year students, is crucial to improve Lake Forest College’s position in college rankings.

The College’s specific goals for student success are targeted at increasing our four- and six-year graduation rates. The six-year graduation rate is the common metric through which graduation rates are measured. Currently the College six-year graduation rate is 70 percent. We are striving to improve that rate to above 75 percent within the next few years.

Efforts to improve retention of students are based upon data that we collect and analyze about current students. Our data has identified a few specific groups of students that are particularly vulnerable to leave the College after their first year.

These groups include: first-year students with a first-semester GPA below 2.0, out-of-state males, students who have a high school GPA below 3.00, and students who do not get engaged in meaningful activities or experiences outside of the classroom. These groups hold a steady correlation with the College’s retention rate.

The analyses of data has led to three recommendations, to focus on in order to increase the first to second year retention rate of students—an important first step to improve the overall graduation rate of students:

• Increase intentional, intrusive one-on-one relationships (academic, advising, and mentoring) with students
• Increase opportunities for College-supported, structured, high-engagement co-curricular involvement
• A College-wide commitment to mentor and engage students—especially in their first years

With the retention rate of first-year students at about 84 percent, a significant increase compared to ten years ago, the College is moving in a positive direction regarding retention and graduation rates. However, we must continue to make progress in this area, and the recommendations outlined above should help direct our focus.