Several Factors Attributed to This Milestone
AUSTIN, Texas—Concordia University Texas (CTX) recently announced its highest ever freshman retention rate at 75 percent. The school has consistently performed around the national average for private schools (65 percent), but this past year’s retention surpasses that average.
“We have high goals in terms of enrollment and retention, and these significant increases in both areas put us right on track for Concordia’s future,” Dr. Don Christian, president of Concordia University Texas said. “We’re so proud of what we’ve accomplished over the last few years.”
CTX attributes several factors to this milestone achievement, including revising the financial aid strategy, investing in a writing center, and implementing Student Central: a front-line office that helps students with financial aid, accounting, and registration services.
Financial Aid Strategy
CTX revised its financial aid strategy approximately two years ago. Students are now receiving more financial aid, and recent data shows low-income students at CTX are showing improvements in retention. In 2013-2014, after looking at students based on need and academic status, CTX reduced the renewal grade-point average (GPA) and minimum hours of merit scholarships, allowing for more students to keep their merit scholarships throughout their college career. In 2014-2015, CTX gave approximately $8 million in need-based institutional aid.
The biggest impact to the financial aid strategy was the addition of the Kilian Award, an award that specifically targets students receiving little to no need-based financial aid and little to no merit aid. The University previously struggled to recruit and retain this student group, and by targeting them through financial aid recruitment, CTX has increased the enrollment and retention rates.
Focus on English Courses and Writing Center
One area that can significantly affect a student’s success at the university level is their ability to write. CTX recognized this and invested resources to put in place a writing center with a strong focus on freshman English courses. All students now have the opportunity to use the writing center for assistance with any class. This development has enabled students who did not previously have a strong academic profile to become more successful. CTX data illuminates a correlation between students in developmental English courses who received assistance at the writing center and higher pass rates. This concentrated focus has led to greater success for students in English classes, and has also contributed to the overall effectiveness of a student studying the liberal arts, which includes a significant amount of reading and writing.
CTX developed Student Central several years ago with the intent of creating a one-stop shop for all student-service needs. Over the last year, services and staff have nearly doubled to provide everything from guidance in financial aid to accounting and registration services. Student Central provides a holistic approach to solving students’ problems. If a student is considering dropping a course mid-semester, they will likely face negative academic and financial repercussions, such as non-refunds, a reduction of financial aid, or loss of scholarship. Support Coordinators in Student Central are there to advise and guide students through these types of challenges.
Student Central provides a proactive student service approach. Student Support Coordinators are assigned students, much like admissions counselors, and they reach out to their students before financial or academic trouble arises. Student Central also holds workshops and seminars to help students create class schedules, learn how to use automated degree auditing software, and to determine how to pay their tuition statements. CTX’s Student Central is a customer service management center in higher education.