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ASUNM talks retention rates

At UNM, fifty percent of freshmen who don’t return to school for a second semester are failing 100-level core classes.

The Enrollment Management Select Summary Data Report (Enrollment Data Report) listed failure rates of 50 percent or higher in Biology Lab 123, Anthropology 130, Religion 107, Psychology 105, and Earth and Planetary Sciences 101 for freshmen who did not return to school. Additionally, more than 45 percent of these students fail Math 120.

In a presentation before the ASUNM Senate Wednesday, Associate Provost for Curriculum Gregory Heileman said high failure rates and inadequate advisement contribute to falling student retention and low graduation rates.

“Student retention and graduation rates are similar to Napoleon’s march from Paris to Moscow in 1812,” he said. “It started out with 400,000 soldiers but ended with only 10,000 soldiers.”

According to the Enrollment Data Report, 74 percent of freshmen from fall 2010 returned in fall 2011, 5 percent fewer than 2008, and only 45 percent of students who first enrolled in 2005 graduated in 2011.

Heileman said courses with high failure rates should be restructured to better suit student needs. He said the Provost Committee of Academic Success, a committee established last semester to improve student success and advising practices on campus, will develop a math emporium for Math 120 that will allow students to choose the pace of the course.

“Students will have scheduled hours that they have to be in the emporium,” he said. “They can set their own pace but the system won’t let you move forward without knowing a concept.”

Heileman said the committee initiated a pilot project in fall 2011 that trains advisers through UNM’s Mentoring Institute, so that advisers are not only capable of helping students choose classes, but also give advice on things like study strategies and career options.

“We’re looking at freshmen that haven’t registered for next semester, freshmen on (academic) probation and other early warnings associated with classroom performance and trying to improve their experiences on campus,” he said. “We want to extend training to alumni, retirees and students as well.”

During the meeting, ASUNM Sen. Anthony Santistevan said the proposed 3 percent increase in tuition would affect the affordability of education and influence student retention.

Santistevan asked Heileman what measures the administration is taking to curtail the rising costs of attending UNM.

He referenced the Enrollment Data Report, which states tuition and education cost as the main reason students don’t return for a third semester.

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Heileman said the committee is working with the bursar’s office to offer payment plans for students who are indebted to the University. He said payment plans would allow students to continue their education.

“Bursar holds impede student registration and discourage students from continuing their education because they can’t afford to pay the thousands of dollars on their bill,” he said. “We want to allow students to make small payments against the debt they owe without it affecting their education and without accumulating additional debt.”

Heileman said UNM already offers assistance to students who want to return to the University. He said the Graduation Project offers admissions assistance, priority enrollment and tuition assistance through the Regents’ Tuition Assistance Program and Graduation Express, and offers distance education and child care services to increase student graduation rates.

“The vision is to positively impact the ability for students to excel academically,” he said. “The committee addresses the disconnect in UNM policy related to advisement effectiveness and how these services are actually delivered.”


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