With the national graduation rate for four year degree granting university’s hovering around 59% (in six years as required by federal reporting), many are left wondering how to keep more students on the path to graduation and raise a college’s retention rate.
There are several factors that play into retention. These factors range from campus life, to academics, technology on campus, and intervention. There are several edtech tools that can use data to identify high risk students and help advisors intervene at the critical points in those students academic cycles. But what about on a more broader scale. What can be used to help lift a school’s retention rate campus wide?
Tom Shaver, the Founder and CEO at Ad Astra Information Systems, an architect by trade, discovered one of the biggest factors in retention.
After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Kansas in 1987 Shavers went to work for his family’s business, The Shaver Partnership, an architectural firm that specialized in university building design. It was there that he started to understand the role that buildings and space played in education. More than just designing pretty buildings with endowment money, Shavers realized how important academic space management was in driving success.
In 1996 he opened Ad Astra as a consulting firm. Soon after they started developing software to support an “innovative capacity based model for academic space management” Shavers than identified the next important piece of the puzzle and with that Ad Astra added a student centric model for course offering management to their platform.
Simply put, Ad Astra Information Systems understand that completion in retention doesn’t begin at the end of Junior year but rather at enrollment and with academic scheduling. Colleges that don’t pay attention to the importance of academic scheduling and course offering management, roll their schedules forward without refinement. This leads to course access bottlenecks. Students that can’t get access to the courses they need when they want them, is a major contributing factor to retention and completion.
Comb through the higher ed pages on nibletz.com and you’ll see hundreds of references to “data driven impactful decision making”. Peel that back though and what questions are your software tools really answering?
Ad Astra can help answer questions that can really affect student outcomes, like “if we add more evening science classes will that impact our retention”, a course management question. Another example would be, “if we move all of the MBA classes to the same building will we graduate more MBAs?”. The answer to that question is yes, that’s an academic space question.
Although both of those examples seem like real no-brainers, thousands of higher ed institutions still use antiquated software for scheduling that doesn’t take those factors into consideration. Most scheduling packages look at the course, the students degree path and the availability. Most scheduling packages fill classes first, and not student schedules.
Ad Astra Information Systems offers a real education intelligence program that thinks intelligently.
“In the end, the academic scheduling process should feel less like roulette and more like chess – based on strategy, resource management, and sound decision-making.” Shavers says on the company website.
We are at a critical crossroads in higher education. Without coming out and saying it, access to technology for today’s Gen Z students has actually created smarter students. Of course we still have ivy league students, they’ll end up going to the ivy league schools. However, the students that can get into the larger public and private universities (think D1 schools) are finding that they are getting accepted at an average of at least 3 out of the 5 schools they apply to. This means that colleges and universities are going to have to support these students the best that they can, or they’ll just transfer to a school that will. A key factor in retention isn’t just the software provided by Ad Astra but the philosophy that started the company.
Learn how Ad Astra Information Systems can graduate more students faster at your institution, at EDUCAUSE in Philadelphia, November 1-3, booth #1724 and at aais.com