Innovations for a Challenging Economy:
Bulletin #7


Maguire Associates Introduces Four
New Retention Services

Designed to help understand and address why students leave.

A majority of senior college and university officials (62%) reports that improving student retention and graduation rates is the most pressing issue at their institutions, according to new research to be released soon by Maguire Associates.  It’s no wonder, since improving retention performance can produce substantial gains in both revenue and reputation.

Only a third of these officials (32%) state that they have a full time administrator or coordinator assigned to track and improve retention, which may be no surprise to those struggling to organize retention at their own schools.  In addition, less than a third of respondents (27%) can affirm that they have written retention plans to guide their efforts.  Nonetheless, everyone is scrambling these days to build and implement effective retention programs.  Opportunities for action are especially plentiful now that the federal government is preparing to make stimulus monies available to help institutions improve their retention performance.

It is in this environment, filled with opportunities and challenges alike, that Maguire Associates is launching a reformulated suite of retention services.

Introducing the Retention Diagnostic Audit

A Diagnostic Audit serves as the cornerstone of each of four new services.  It provides you with a strategic “conversation starter” on campus, capturing in one assessment how leaders across many departments responsible for retention view whether and how the institution:

  1. Organizes to address retention issues,
  2. Knows why students leave,
  3. Tracks at-risk students,
  4. Intervenes to prevent attrition,
  5. Promises only what it can deliver,
  6. Delivers the desired experience,
  7. Enrolls students likely to persist, and 
  8. Reframes the significance of attrition.

These eight dimensions illustrate that retention transcends the boundaries of most every department, from Enrollment Management and Academics to Student Life and Athletics.  The good news is that retention belongs to everyone in the organization.  The bad news is that this often means retention really belongs to no one. 

You can use the Diagnostic Audit to engage your colleagues in the essential conversations needed to implement an evidence-based, action-oriented retention program.  For example, even institutional leaders who believe they have useful tracking systems for at-risk students are eager to discuss how they can convert that evidence into specific intervention actions.  As in many operating environments today, there is often too much information without enough action.

Addressing the Reasons for Leaving

Our services will help you understand why students are leaving and recommend what can be done about it.  Why students leave or become dissatisfied can arise as a single factor or in complex combinations.  Some reasons for attrition are personal to the student, such as changing individual or family circumstances.  Other reasons are more central to the institution, such as the variety of academic offerings, the quality of the student experience, or the availability of financial aid.  We will help you determine the sources of dissatisfaction and focus on the ones that you can realistically expect to improve.

Launching Four New Services

Each of the following services incorporates the use of our free Retention Revenue Estimator:

  1. The Diagnostic Audit delivers actionable knowledge about retention perceptions and performance within the institution.  Over 30 days, results of the online audit are combined with a Site Visit, Competitive and Comparative Analyses, and Research of National Clearinghouse Data to create a written assessment and action plan.  This service is appropriate for institutions that feel they have an insufficient grasp of their retention challenges and possibilities, those seeking to jump-start long-overdue retention conversations on campus, as well as those wanting to restart or refresh current as well as past efforts.

  2. The Short-Term Attrition Reduction Service focuses on current students.  This 60-day program appeals to those who want to: 1) know why students are leaving, 2) track at-risk students, 3) intervene to prevent attrition, and 4) best organize to achieve these outcomes.  With the Diagnostic Audit and Retention Revenue Estimator, the service also features:
  • Satisfaction and dropout surveys of current and former students,
  • Predictive modeling of retention success factors using institutional data,
  • Tagging of students by degree of attrition risk,
  • Survival modeling using longitudinal data by cohort to model key retention factors and how they develop and interact over time,
  • Assessment of retention tradeoffs involving varied financial aid options, building on our strategic financial aid modeling service (EMFASYS™),
  • Design of priority metrics and presentation through a dashboard reporting system, and
  • Written report with analysis and recommendations for reducing current attrition.
  1. The Long-Term Retention Enhancement Service focuses on aligning student expectations and experiences and improving overall retention performance.  Implemented in 120 days, this service is designed for colleges and universities that want to: 1) promise only what they can deliver, 2) deliver that desired experience, 3) enroll students likely to persist, and 4) reframe the significance of attrition by assessing the problem in terms of costs, competitive standing, and institutional ambitions.

    This service includes the Diagnostic Audit, Retention Revenue Estimator, research of National Clearinghouse data, satisfaction and dropout surveys as well as:
  • Review of website, publications, and social media content (click here to learn more),
  • Integration of institutional data with secondary research from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP), and other sources,
  • Interviews and focus groups with current and former students, including optional use of a new, patented research methodology for expanding the reach and analytic power of focus groups (click here to learn more), and
  • Written report with analysis and recommendations for improving retention.
  1. The Comprehensive Retention Plan combines the programs above, starting with the Diagnostic Audit, and is delivered in 150 days.  It is intended for institutions seeking a comprehensive approach both to reducing attrition and boosting long-term retention.

For more information about the Retention Services:
Please email or call us at 978.371.1775
or click on our service page.

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