Looking at the Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE) results in 2014, the university noticed something striking in response to the item “Do you expect to graduate from this institution?” While more than 90% of incoming students answered Yes, those who did not were much more likely to drop out— common among universities using the survey, as the graph shows. Some of these students leave voluntarily for reasons of their own, but that isn’t always the case.
That’s where the university recognized an opportunity to help. Existing research shows several reasons students are likely to leave involuntarily. In addition to the most obvious, like financial concerns or academic issues, family obligations and not feeling a social connection to campus can be as strong or stronger for some. Given the likelihood of these students dropping out early in their college careers, the university is making an outreach effort to:
- Identify individual obstacles to success
- Connect students with available resources
- Help them see through their educational goal
The 2015 BCSSE was administered at summer SOAR sessions and received more than 2,000 individual responses. Several academic and co-curricular units are active participants in the effort to use the responses to improve retention. Surveys can unfortunately leave the impression of being filled in, filed, and forgotten. This project to assist involuntary dropouts is an example of how MSU uses surveys for decisions that make a difference.