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Exploring The Recruiting & Retention Paradigm: What Works & What Doesn't

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



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Page Numbers

4.259.1 - 4.259.9

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Paper Authors

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Judy Grimes

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Huiming Wang

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Virendra K. Varma

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3247

Exploring the Recruiting & Retention Paradigm: What Works & What Doesn’t

Virendra K. Varma, Judith Grimes, Huiming Wang Missouri Western State College


This paper addresses the challenges associated with recruitment and retention of students. It describes a unique program at Missouri Western State College. It is called Access Plus. It is a program designed to enhance the mission of Missouri Western State College. The purpose of Access Plus is to increase retention and graduation rates. The Freshman Year Experience Office coordinates Access Plus. During the first two years of the program, research shows a seven percent increase in freshman to sophomore retention rates; a 12.6 percent decrease in the number of freshmen on academic probation; and, a 42 percent increase in the number of hours students utilized the Center for Academic Support. Indirectly, Access Plus is an excellent tool for recruitment as it sends a very positive message to prospective students.

I. Introduction

Recruitment means new business for a school, and greater numbers reflect successful recruitment strategies. Every Fall, institutions of higher education are engaged in recruitment activities. These activities require people from the admissions office to participate in college fairs in and out-of-state to attract high school students. Schools also buy several mailing lists, and attract prospective students via direct mailings. Students and their parents are also invited and given campus tours all year round to "recruit" new students. In this effort, individual departments play a key role in attracting students. Depending upon their Mission statement, some schools have open door policies for admission while others are more selective and restrict admissions based on ACT and SAT scores. Once the students are on board, some students make it through the freshman year, and go on to graduate. Those who don’t make it, become a concern for institutions; ‘Retention’ becomes a significant issue. In other words, "Recruitment is just not enough; we must retain students as well," becomes the slogan. This paradigm, not exactly in these words, has been in existence forever and ever. It is only recently, though, in the last 15 to 20 years that some institutions have started making real positive efforts to retain students by offering academic support services. This shift in paradigm through the offering of freshman year experience courses, supplemental instruction, and providing free tutorial services by institutions of higher education, is addressed in this paper.

A program labeled, “Access Plus” at Missouri Western State College, is discussed, which in its third year, has increased freshman retention from 54% in 1995-96 to 61% in 1997-98. “This program keeps students in college by giving them support in what could be their most critical year in college. That support can range from mentoring to peer group discussions, from faculty advisors to special events to ease student transition into college life.”1 In this paper,

Grimes, J., & Wang, H., & Varma, V. K. (1999, June), Exploring The Recruiting & Retention Paradigm: What Works & What Doesn't Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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