West Virginia University’s John Chambers College of Business and Economics has made great strides when it comes to the retention of freshman students, and it shows with an increase in retention numbers this spring.
The retention rate for Fall 2019-Spring 2020 is 94.6 percent, up from 91.5 percent last year. The University retention rate for this same time period is 92.5 percent.
Not only is this an impressive increase, but the Chambers College also had a much larger freshman class in Fall 2019 than in Fall 2018. The fall 2018 first-time freshman class was 532 students, a 12.7 percent increase from 2018's 472, meaning the College started with more freshmen and kept a higher percentage of those students.
A major contributor to this effort, said Director of Recruitment and Retention Rachel Nieman, is the BCOR 191 First-Year Seminar course. Nieman, along with 19 other Chambers College faculty and staff, volunteer to teach this course, serving as the first touchpoint for those first-year business students.
“This class allows students to make friends that are also pursuing business degrees in a small class setting. All of the instructors are either faculty or staff here at the business school, which helps them get connected to the College,” Nieman said. “The small setting of BCOR 191, along with BCOR 199 Introduction to Business, is a really strong combination to help them feel like they're part of the business school from the start.”
Student organizations, of course, also help to create those connections, and these courses require students attend at least one meeting.
“They’re not required to join organizations their first semester, but they do have to at least experience one meeting or activity. We hope this helps demonstrate the ways they can become involved at Chambers,” Nieman said. “We also bring in guest speakers that are student ambassadors who can talk about their experiences and the things they've accomplished in student orgs. It’s more meaningful to hear these messages from a successful peer.”
Other retention programming initiatives include the Living Learning Community, CLIMB LLC, which currently includes about 50 students who live together at Summit Hall, and the Adventure West Virginia trips held the summer before their freshman year.
Nieman is thrilled to see the efforts of the Chambers College’s advising team, faculty and staff truly making a difference.
“I believe that we have a duty to, to the best of our ability, help every student be successful,” she said. “It does take a village, and I feel like we are getting to a point where we have that infrastructure and now we're starting to see results.”
CONTACT: Brittany Murray
Senior Writer, Office of Strategic Communications
John Chambers College of Business and Economics
(304) 293-5927; firstname.lastname@example.org
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