Chapter Three, Part II
Part II. Admissions and Retention
“Based upon a strong liberal arts tradition, these programs support the aspirations of students from all socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds and meet the educational needs of the diverse communities served by the University.” (Mission Statement) INTRODUCTION Lock Haven University enrollment results from the interplay of dynamic external and internal forces. Changes in admissions policies or practices in one functional area may have unforeseen implications on another. We maintain close cooperation among the departments and offices that determine the quantity and quality of the student body. Specifically, experienced people from Academic Affairs, Admissions, Financial Aid, Academic Services, and academic departments work together to guide the enrollment effort. ADMISSIONS Description A goal of the Office of Admissions is to maintain an equitable, efficient, and increasingly broad-based recruitment program that will bring to campus each year a class having the qualifications, interests, and needs consistent with the curriculum offered by the University. Since 1995 the Office of Admissions has undergone changes in reporting lines and staffing. In response to both the State System’s modification of its cap on out-of-state enrollment and changing demographic trends, recruiting territory assignments have been modified. In that year, Admissions also became part of the Division of University Relations. A new Director was named in 1997, and at the same time an Associate Director position was also restored, two temporary professional employees were made permanent, and an additional temporary Admissions Counselor was hired. The Admissions staff also includes two additional assistant directors and five clerical employees. Recent recruiting initiatives include the following: Out-of-State Recruiting Efforts: In response to the State System’s modification of the out-of-state enrollment cap imposed in 1992, the Admissions Office resumed fulltime out-of-state recruiting in 1997. As a university with appeal beyond Commonwealth boundaries, we have concentrated recruitment efforts in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, and Delaware. Costs for out-of-state students were reduced by $2000 for the academic year as an enrollment inducement. Southeastern Pennsylvania Recruitment: Since Lock Haven University has traditionally attracted large numbers of students from the southeastern quadrant of Pennsylvania, we shifted professional assignments in 1997 to intensify our efforts in 84
Chapter Three, Part II this region. This area of the Commonwealth will see an increase in college age students beyond the end of the century, and as competition for these students increases, we must maintain our visibility within this geographic region. Minority Recruitment: A change in assignment for one of the Assistant Directors has resulted in changes in minority student recruitment. Geographic areas with substantial minority populations were identified in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and New York, and recruitment activities were conducted by the Assistant Director given this responsibility. In addition, the University and a State System Special Initiatives Grant have provided financial support in the areas of advertising, travel, and special outreach programs. The Board of Governors Scholarship Program provides funds for minority students. Although the scholarship award is not limited to minority recipients, they are often successful applicants. Presently, eight merit-based freshman scholarships for students are offered in Pennsylvania for students who possess a special talent or ability. Minority recruitment efforts continue to include the College Board Student Search Direct Mailing Program for African American and Hispanic students, a multicultural telemarketing program, and participation in the System Joint Recruitment programs held throughout the Commonwealth. The Director of Human and Cultural Diversity assists with on-campus programming related to both recruitment and retention of minority students. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Partnerships: These partnerships are a joint effort between the State System, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh school districts and are designed to expose minority and/or economically disadvantaged students with academic potential to the opportunities presented by State System universities. Consequently, Lock Haven University has benefited by seeing an increase in the number of students of color. Honors and First Year Excellence Programs: Applications to the Honors Program from incoming freshmen numbered in the 30’s through 1995, and increased to 79 for the fall of 1996, topping 100 for the first time in 1998. The freshman Honors class doubled in 1996, from approximately 20 to 40 students per year. The fall 1999 freshman class includes 50 First Year Excellence students and 40 Honors students, recruited from 150 applicants. First Year Excellence, modeled on the first year in Honors, guarantees admission to the Honors Program after the first year for FYE students who achieve a 3.2 GPA or higher. Applicants to these special academic excellence programs are more likely to matriculate here than other university applicants. The yield is 60% for Honors and FYE applicants. Resources Technological advances have greatly influenced the admissions process. Computer systems are continually expanding the availability of student information, and with increased use of the Internet, as well as advances in software packages, keeping pace with these changes is essential. The following are some uses of technological enhancement in admissions practices: The CARS Integrated Student Information System used by the University continues to enhance office production and efficiency. Basic functions such as data entry, inquiry processing, contact coding, letter generation, and report outlines are 85
Chapter Three, Part II employed. With technology support from the Computing Center, statistical reports and profiles have been redesigned for our needs, and two primary admission functions, Lead Processing and the Automated Tickler Mailer System, are now being evaluated for future use. Resources assigned to Admissions have permitted the purchase of new computers and peripherals for each professional staff member. A student may learn about the University and submit an electronic application using the University’s web site applications: CollegeView, EXPAN, and College Net. Since 1995 Admissions has subscribed to the CollegeView program, an electronic guide to University programs placed in guidance counseling offices in high schools, embassies, and libraries around the world. Also in 1995, the College Board program, EXPAN, was contracted for by the State System. This program, like CollegeView, enables Admissions to receive electronic applications and inquiries. A third electronic capability, College Net, features the common State System application, and for the class entering in fall 1999, 183 applications were electronically transmitted. To prepare for an expected increase in electronic applications, the University will install the CARS Admissions Module in fall 1999. Accessed through the University’s web site, this module will allow prospective students to electronically transmit admission application data directly into the CARS Integrated Student Information System, thus saving key strokes for a data entry technician. Presently, electronic data must be converted manually into the CARS system. Programs The Admissions Office annually assesses strategies used to recruit qualified students to the main and Clearfield campuses, and the following programs have been successful in that effort. Alumni Recruitment Program: In 1996, an initial group of 14 trained alumni volunteers participated in college day/college night programs held in the states contiguous to Pennsylvania. The program continues since a sufficient number of prospective students enrolled following conversations with alumni. The 1998 program was expanded to include in-state locations. Faculty Phonathon: In 1997, the first Faculty Phonathon was conducted over a 6day period. Approximately 50 faculty members telephoned students accepted into majors in their departments but had not yet sent in deposits to indicate intention to matriculate. These calls give students an opportunity to learn more about the University and the disciplines they intend to study, while giving evidence that faculty are interested in their welfare. This recruiting tool is successful, as measured by the numbers of students who subsequently enrolled following a phone call from a faculty member. The program continues each winter. Advertising Initiatives: A new series of billboard, radio, and newspaper advertisements was initiated in 1997. The program was coordinated with the Public Relations Office and was planned to cover major student market areas in eastern Pennsylvania. Professional Development: The ultimate success of the recruitment process lies with the Admissions staff. Training programs initiated provide information to both professional counselors and support staff. Topics have included personal and 86
Chapter Three, Part II workplace development, as well as education for more sophisticated use of the CARS Integrated Student Information System. Technology training has focused on such topics as Microsoft Publisher, Microsoft Word, and Personal Web Page Creation. In addition, professional staff members have attended meetings of the Pennsylvania Association of Secondary School and College Admissions Counselors, the National Association of College Admissions Counselors, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, the College Board, as well as the Annapolis Institute for Alumni/Admissions Programming. New Students: A Snapshot of Fall 1999 New students entering the University in Fall 1999 numbered as follows. Main Campus New Freshmen New Transfers Total Students Transfer Students The State System has approved an Academic Passport and Student Transfer Policy designed to ease student transfers from Pennsylvania community colleges to State System universities or from one State System university to another. The policy details Passport eligibility; admission to the transfer university; admission to specific academic programs; transfer of occupational, technical and vocation program credits; and general education transfer credits. A student may access a database that gives comparative information on how home university credits will be received at each transfer university under consideration, thus enabling informed decision-making. Admissions personnel attend most transfer fairs offered during the fall semester at Pennsylvania community colleges. Our principle feeder transfer institutions are Pennsylvania College of Technology, Harrisburg Area Community College, Bucks County Community College, Montgomery County Community College, Luzerne County Community College, Lehigh Carbon County Community College, and The Pennsylvania State University. Typically, entering first time freshmen are recipients of scholarship aid administered by the University. A Deans Transfer Scholarship supports some transfer students, but limitations on the number of recipients and the amount of money dispersed make this avenue of aid unavailable to most transfer students. 827 181 Clearfield Campus 60 23 Subtotal Students 887 204 1091
Chapter Three, Part II Recommendations Although the Admissions Office has succeeded in meeting the new student enrollment expectations, the need for a comprehensive enrollment management plan is becoming increasingly apparent. Such a plan must realistically cover both short term (1-5 years) and long-term goals (6-10 years) and address the University’s specific needs. Increasing use of electronic applications will necessitate staying current with new and changing technologies and maintaining user-friendly home page information and design. Augmenting scholarship moneys targeted for transfer students would make the University more affordable for students desiring to complete an undergraduate degree.
ENROLLMENT Student Academic Profile Comparing Lock Haven University’s regularly admitted students with published profiles of national SAT averages, over the five-year period from 1995 to 1999, reveals that 64% were regularly admitted, and for four of the five years, the LHU SAT mean score exceeded the national average. Pennsylvania as a whole, with its 70% participation rate in taking the SAT (for 1999 high school seniors), has an average lower (combined SAT -993) than the national average (combined SAT -1016), with a 43% participation rate. Thus, the percentage of entering students with SATs that exceeds the national average is heartening. A regularly admitted student has a combination of SAT score and high school grades that predict the ability to begin college level studies without remedial courses. These students may schedule up to 18 semester hours of coursework per semester, and additional semester hours may be scheduled with the permission of the faculty advisor. Conditionally admitted students are those with ambiguity in their high school records having higher SAT scores combined with lower high school grades and vice versa. These students comprise 23% of accepted students and are limited to a twelve semester hour course load for the first two semesters. During the same five-year period, composite SAT scores for conditionally admitted students averaged 137 points lower than for regularly admitted students
Chapter Three, Part II Composite SAT Scores for Regular and Conditional Admission Students 1995 to 1999
950 900 850 800 750 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 National Scores Regular Admissions Conditional Admissions Year
Several admission categories comprise the remaining 13% of University students. With the exception of nursing students, the special admission categories are designed to support the State System and Lock Haven University’s mission of increased access to our public institutions. These admission categories include Act101/EOP, the Summer Development Program, and the Academic Development Program. Between 1995 and 1997, these special admission categories included 353 students with a mean Verbal SAT of 415, a mean Math SAT of 409, and a mean composite SAT of 824. Between 1995-99, 68% of regularly admitted students ranked in the top two-fifths of their high school class. Another 22% in the third fifth resulted in classes with approximately 90% of regularly admitted students in the upper three-fifths in high school rank. See the following table:
Chapter Three, Part II Percentages of Regularly Admitted Students in the Top 1/5, 2/5 and 3/5 of High School Class 1995 to 1999
100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%
9.7 17.7 12.1 22.3 6.3 26 6.5 23.2 5.7 26.1
Top 2/5Year of Class
Top 1/5 of Class
Top 3/5 of Class
Overall, SAT scores and class ranks for regularly and conditionally admitted students have remained stable. The addition of the Summer Development and the Academic Development Programs, while providing higher education access to students who show promise and a desire to do college level work but who have deficiencies in their academic records, has reduced the average SAT and class rank of freshmen students. By accepting admission in the Act 101/EOP or Summer Development programs, however, students obligate themselves to take part in the personal and academic support opportunities offered, and their retention is enhanced as a result. Percentage of Students Enrolled by Admission Category: A Comparison
70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Fall 1998 Athletic Development Program (ADP) Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Regular Conditional Nursing Fall 1999
20 1 4 2 5 2
14 7 1 6
Summer Development Program (TR)
Chapter Three, Part II Student Attrition Due to Academic Deficiency Student retention is the preferred means of maintaining desired enrollment levels, yet student attrition due to academic dismissal has increased over the last decade. Early in the decade, approximately 3.1% of the student body was dismissed for not maintaining acceptable GPAs, while 4.9% were dismissed from the University most recently. On average over the last nine semesters, 170 students (approximately 4.5% of the undergraduate student body) were dismissed each semester. Of these, an average of 58 students successfully appealed the decision and were permitted to enroll in the following semester. More than half (66%) of dismissed students left the university while 34% attended at least one more semester. An average of 177 students failed to achieve a minimum GPA and were placed on probation in each of the last eleven semesters. Approximately 5% of the undergraduate student body are given this warning to improve academic performance to the published standard. The reasons for increases in student attrition for academic reasons are numerous. About 20 years ago, the University adopted probation and dismissal standards that resulted in the departure of students unwilling, or unable, to perform academically. Previously, some students maintained enrollment but did not progress toward a degree or did not maintain an acceptable GPA. With these dismissals, student behavior in the residence halls and in academic settings improved, and the climate for learning improved on campus. Faculty members have expressed concern that some students are unable to perform at the college level. Remedial coursework and learning skills techniques have helped some students to earn degrees, but some are unable to find sufficient motivation, which is crucial for their success. Parents indicate that they are unwilling to support their student’s presence in college without seeing some evidence of effort in return. Consequently, students receive ample warnings, indicating that they must improve their classroom performance. While on academic probation, students have one or two semesters to earn an acceptable GPA. With limited improvement, but not enough to meet the minimum standard to continue, students may be asked to leave the University for one or two semesters, allowing the student time to reset priorities and return with renewed determination to succeed.
Chapter Three, Part II Recommendations Additional student support, including tutorials, remedial classes, and commitments to smaller class sizes is recommended to make possible the individual attention necessary to enable students to succeed. Since the entering class profile is most felt in freshman level General Education classes, specific attention must be given to provide support for teachers of these courses. First-time freshmen should be given more input into their fall schedules to give students a vested interest in their classes.
Analysis of Recruitment and Admissions: A Student Perspective For this Middle States Self-Study, a member of the student government was invited to chair a focus group of ten freshman students during spring 1998 to discuss recruitment and admission practices at Lock Haven University. The freshmen selected were involved in student government or were leaders in residence halls or club activities. The goal was to determine a student perspective on recruitment and admission practices without releasing identifying information about the respondents. Generally, students offered positive comments when asked to recall their recruitment and admission experiences. Factors which encouraged them to apply and ultimately attend Lock Haven University included small class sizes, the sense of community on the campus, the proximity of the campus to their homes, affordability, and the reputation of programs or majors. Most students were satisfied with the size of the student body, desiring to attend a small campus where they would feel valued as individuals. In response to a second set of questions, many participants acknowledged that their decision to attend had been influenced by former students or current members of the University community. Some participants attended college fairs in their communities where they met Lock Haven University recruiters. Several students made University-sponsored visits to campus, but all participants had visited the campus at some point in their deliberations. Students stated that the application process was fair and easy to follow. Most students did not have an interview with an official from the Admissions Office as part of the admission process. However, the students believed that their applications had been reviewed individually by one of these officials. Several students desired more information on class scheduling and better explanations of the drop-add policy as part of the admissions and orientation process, but many students reported that they were pleased by how quickly they were informed about their acceptance. 92
Chapter Three, Part II Recommendations Since students generally believed that the process was more difficult and cumbersome for non-traditional students and graduate students, efforts to assess this condition should be made. The students also recommended that Lock Haven University target high school scholars and leaders, describing opportunities to pursue scholarly and leadership interests. Students recommended starting a program in which potential students could "shadow a current student" and attend classes for a day.
STUDENT RETENTION University-Wide Student Retention Over the last eight years, one-year retention rates for cohorts of first time freshman ranged from a low of 71.3% to a high of 79.9% (SSHE Factbook—1998-99)). Of fall 1997 freshmen, 71.9% returned for the sophomore year, while the average one-year retention rate in the State System was 74.9% for the fall 1997 cohort. For first time freshmen from fall 1990 to fall 1993, sufficient time has elapsed to determine four, five and six year graduation rates. See the table below for comparative data involving Lock Haven University, the State System and peer institutions. Graduation Rates Graduation rates are given for cohorts of first-time, full-time, baccalaureate degree seeking freshmen averaged for years 1990 to 1993 for Lock Haven University, the State System and a peer group of 230 institutions, 176 public and 54 private. Not included in this sample are two-year degree seekers and transfer students. Persistence to graduation in 4, 5 and 6 years is given. Average % who graduate in: Years required to Lock Haven complete degree University 25.4 4 years 49.5 5 years 53.3 6 years
State System 25.9 48.9 53.0
Peer Institutions 26.5 47.2 53.3
There is no statistically significant difference between Lock Haven University’s graduation rates and either the State System or peer group rates. Students most often cite personal or financial reasons when they withdraw from the University. 93
Chapter Three, Part II Approximately half of our students change majors at least one time thus delaying graduation. Faculty undergraduate advisors report that, in contrast to parents, many students do not feel strongly that they should complete the degree in four years. There is little identification with the class they entered and feel no pressure to graduate with their cohort. Students oftentimes elect to take fewer than the 16 semester hours per semester needed to graduate in 8 semesters. At times, they have only a incompletely formed idea of what they would like to study and need time for exploration to fine tune their academic direction. Rapid changes in the types of careers available to students have made some of them stay longer to improve their marketability. The highly motivated, focused undergraduate student can graduate in four years. Students accepted at Lock Haven University represent a broad range of SAT scores and high school rankings. The statistics for 1993 first time freshmen reveal that progress toward graduation is correlated to previous academic performance. The students with highest SAT scores and HS rankings were retained at a level of 67%, while the least academically qualified were retained at 25% (LHUP Freshmen Characteristics report, 1997). Both academic and student affairs professionals have been charged with assessing retention efforts, and the Vice President for Student Affairs reports to the President biannually on aspects of student retention. The latest results indicate that female students achieve a higher GPA than their male counterparts, evidenced by twice the number of female students achieving Dean’s List recognition, while students who attend New Student Orientation in the summer achieve a higher GPA than those who do not attend. Tracking of minority retention has been a feature of each of these analyses. Special Populations and Retention Undeclared Students: As a group, undeclared students are at high risk for retention and graduation. It should be noted, however, that undeclared students are a heterogeneous group that includes several high-risk categories of students. High risk undeclared students include the following: Students who are admitted conditionally Students who seek admission to a particular major, but do not meet its standards Act 101/EOP students Summer Development Program students Academic Development Program students Undecided students
Chapter Three, Part II Lower risk undeclared students include pre-professional students, (pre-med, pre-dent, pre-law, for example) classified by the CARS information system as undeclared since their occupational interests do not correlate with offered academic majors. These students are advised by faculty in disciplines allied to their career goals. Also in the low risk group are the cohort of regularly admitted undeclared students who have yet to define academic and career objectives. Outreaches to these students encourage selecting a major, while keeping options open for other opportunities. In 1992 the Director of Undeclared Student Advising was appointed as a half-time assignment to provide support to undeclared students (see also Chapter Two, Part II). Services include faculty advisor training, individual advising to students, career testing and assessment, and an Academic Majors Fair. Beginning in the fall of 1998, a faculty mentoring program for undeclared students began providing additional support. The Coordinator also encourages the creation of policies supporting early declaration of major and efficient major changes, both significant factors in retaining this student population. The following table reveals the number of undeclared students by class: Progression of Undeclared Students into Academic Majors Fall 1995 Fall 1996 788 696 Total Students 654 (83%) 579 (83%) Freshman 114 (14%) 104 (15%) Sophomore 17 (2%) 12 (2%) Junior 3 (<0.5%) 1 (<0.5%) Senior Fall 1997 682 558 107 14 3
(82%) (16%) (2%) (<0.5)
These figures reveal a progressive reduction of approximately 13% in the number of undeclared students during the three year period, but little difference in the numbers of students at each class level. Despite efforts to enroll students in appropriate majors, a small number of students accumulate credits without a clearly focused goal. Students with Disabilities: Students with disabilities participate in academic and other programs of the University. Reasonable accommodation, support services, and academic advising contribute to the retention of these students. A spring 1997 study of retention, using cohorts of entering freshmen and transfer students who identified themselves as having a documented disability, reveals that students with disabilities are highly successful. Retention rates determined by this study include the following: 5-year retention rate for the 1991 cohort (N=25) of 60% 4-year retention rate for the 1992 cohort (N=24) of 70.8% 3-year retention rate for the 1993 cohort (N=15) of 73.3% 95
Chapter Three, Part II 2-year retention rate for the 1994 cohort (N=34) of 76.4% 1-year retention rate for the 1995 cohort (N=30) of 63.3% While these results must be viewed with some caution because of the relatively small cohort size, they are encouraging, and continued study of the population occurs. Minority Students: The Lock Haven University ethnic population, defined as African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American, is more than 4% of the student body, with lower retention rates. The following table shows the average retention rate for six freshman classes (1991 to 1996) for majority (self-identified as white) students and for minority students. Retention Rates for Majority and Minority Students, 1991-1996 Majority 743 Average number of entering freshmen 73% Percent returned for sophomore year 61% Percent returned for junior year
Minority 40 62% 48%
See Chapter Three, Part I for information on minority retention programs. SPECIAL PROGRAMS FOR STUDENT RETENTION Student Support Services For seventeen years, Lock Haven University has served as a host site for a Student Support Services (TRIO) federal grant project, using a highly successful model for student retention. Students served derive from disadvantaged backgrounds and are typically considered to be at high retention and graduation risk. Primarily, they qualify for the program if they have a low family income, require additional academic support, have a disability, or are first generation college students. Secondary selection criteria include whether students are non-traditional, racial or ethnic minorities, undeclared majors, referrals from another TRIO program (e.g. Upward Bound), referrals from similar programs serving college bound students, and referrals from professionals working with eligible students. As a result of these secondary criteria, the program has consistently served high rates of minority students (approximately 10 % of clients), and undeclared students (25-40% of clients). The service model focuses on academic support, but also includes a non-cognitive support component. Services include academic advising, financial aid counseling, personal counseling, the Writing Center, the Mathematics center, and disability services.
Chapter Three, Part II For the period of 1991 to 1996, one-year retention rates for Student Support Services students ranged from a low of 82% to a high of 89.6%. Two-year retention rates were also high, ranging between 60% and 83.7% One and Two-Year Retention Rates for Student Support Services Participants and All Matriculating Students AY 1991 AY 1992 AY 1993 AY 1994 AY 1995 Student Support Service Participants: One-year retention 84.3% 82.0% 89.6% 86.6% Two-year retention 64.4% 66.6% 71.2% All Matriculating Students One year retention 79.9% 77.3% 72.1% 72.0% 71.3% Two year retention 63.9% 65.1% 59.9% 59.3% 58.6% Five-year (10 semester) retention rates for Student Support Services cohorts reflect the success of the high level of contact and services provided to this at-risk group of students. Their graduation rates are comparable to, and generally have exceeded, overall institutional graduation rates. Student Support Services (TRIO) and All Matriculating Students Graduation Rates (including actively enrolled students after five years) AY 1990 AY 1991 AY 1992 AY 1993 55.3% 60% 62% TRIO All Matriculating Students 51.8% 53.9% 48.2% 44.4%
Act 101/EOP Program The Commonwealth supported Educational Opportunity Program provides services to educationally and economically disadvantaged students and includes peer mentoring, academic advising, personal counseling, career counseling, and tutoring. Typically, EOP students have lower SAT scores and class rankings than regularly or conditionally admitted students. Students enroll for seven semester hours in the summer before their freshmen year, taking Composition, Learning Strategies, and one additional three-semester hour General Education basic skills course, followed by a Freshman Seminar in the fall semester of their freshman year. Retention rates for EOP students reflect the high retention risk of this population. Pennsylvania State generated statistics compare first year attrition rates for EOP students among all Commonwealth colleges and universities, and Lock Haven University compares favorably
Chapter Three, Part II with these other programs. Retention rates for Lock Haven University Act 101/EOP students entering in four freshmen classes (1993 to 1996) are given below. One-Year, Two-Year, and Four-Year Retention for Act 101/EOP Students 1993 1994 1995 1996 54% 69.2% 66.0% 51.6% 1-year retention rate (enrolled 3rd semester) 46% 48.7% 51.8% 2-year retention rate (enrolled 5th semester) 34% 43.6% 4-year retention rate (enrolled 8 or more semesters) Honors Program Retention of students in the Honors Program has been quantified, in part, by one-year retention rates. As a benchmark, the published percentages of students returning for the sophomore year for Pennsylvania private schools with which the University often competes for students (for example, Dickinson, Franklin and Marshall, and Lycoming) range from 87 - 94%. Comparable data for Lock Haven University Honors freshmen indicate that an average of 94% returned to the University to begin a third semester. A comparison of honors freshmen to other entering freshmen with similar academic credentials (top fifth of high school class and 1000+ SATs) enrolling in fall 1997, reveals that non-honors Lock Haven University freshmen returned at a rate of 83%, while 95% of honors freshmen returned for their sophomore year. In addition, the average GPA for Honors freshmen was 3.2, but 2.9 for similarly qualified, non-honors freshmen. Seventy-five percent of honors students who entered in fall 1994 and 67% who entered in fall 1995 have graduated from the University. Of the ten fall 1994 and 1995 honors entrants who had not graduated from the University, none had academic deficiencies, and seven students had a GPA above 3.0 (with 2 above a 3.5). Presumably, nearly all have graduated (or will graduate) from other institutions. For additional information on the Honors Program, see Chapter Four, Part II and Chapter Seven, Part II. Other Programs Lock Haven University is committed to student retention, focusing on both academic and personal areas. For example, Connections, a mentoring program, links selected freshmen students in the residence halls with volunteer faculty members. A faculty member from the Department of Academic Development and Counseling and a staff member from Student Affairs 98
Chapter Three, Part II collaborated to develop the program. Connections have recently been expanded to include undeclared freshmen students. Academic courses that support retention include Freshmen Seminar (3 semester hours), Basic College Skills (1 semester hour), Learning Strategies (1 semester hour), Principles and Development of Cognitive Reading Processes (2 semester hours), and credit bearing courses (associated with certain General Education courses) teaching the basic skills needed to understand the discipline (1 semester hour). Some remedial courses count toward graduation, while others count toward full-time status, although the credits do not apply to graduation. Faculty members recognize the value of academic support courses that, while offering academic credit, do not count toward completing a degree. Some students who could benefit from additional instruction, on the other hand, do not want to take these courses. Some section sizes are small, and more students in need of remedial instruction should take advantage of the help. Programs that support student academic success are found throughout the University. See Chapter Two, Part II and Chapter Three, Part I for information on these programs. Recommendations Seek to expand academic support efforts beyond the two grant programs (EOP/Act 101 and Student Support Services) in an effort to reach students with academic need who are not economically disadvantaged. Increase programming in early contact, first-year and second-year retention efforts. Four- and five-year retention rates are comparable to peer institutions, but one- and two-year retention statistics are somewhat lower. Determine the feasibility of bus visitations for ethnic students and parents from major cities, allowing them to have positive first hand experiences with the Lock Haven University community before and during the academic year. Specifically target academically deficient ethnic freshmen, focusing on fostering student trust, leading students to honestly assess academic abilities and take action to develop needed skills.