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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Retention Attention


A school’s “student success” is measured by two strict criteria known as retention rates and graduation rates. Legally defined and stringently monitored retention and graduation rates are of grave importance to the University’s image and reputation.

  Retention rates have been a growing concern of the administrative bureaucracy at UMass Boston. A special committee has been formed with the task of discovering the causes of UMass’ low retention rates and creating solutions.

  In a town hall meeting arranged by the student government, committee members Vice Chancellor (VC) Patrick Day and Vice Provost of Academic Support services and Undergraduate Studies Joan Becker spoke about their work.

VC Day started things off with a brief explanation of how retention rates work; the number of students who enroll one semester and return again the next year defines the rate of retention. A first time freshman student who continues through his first two semesters and returns as a sophomore is an example of retention.  Graduation rates are defined as the number of students who enroll as freshman and graduate within 6 years.

 In explaining the rating system, VC Day mentioned one of the disadvantages implicit in the system that UMass faces.  The rating system does not account for transfer students, which make up a majority of our student population.

 Another major problem UMass has could also been seen as one of its greatest assets, that is, the ability to cater to students who have busy lives packed with jobs, families, and financial concerns. We have lots of students who succeed but do it a few steps at a time, earning credits for a semester here and there, when they have the time and money.

The campus’ diversity is what makes UMass great. A student body of diverse people is undeniably a strength. However, such a unique student body defies the generalized standards of the legally defined and mandatorily adhered to rating system.

  VC Day went on to say that despite these built-in obstacles, there is room for improvement and steps are being taken. “What we on the committee are trying to do is narrow down the reasons for students leaving so we can tailor to those specific deficiencies. We are improving communication between administrators and the student body in the hopes of recognizing early warning signs and opportunities for involvement.”

VP Joan Becker joined VC Day described some of the actions being taken, stating, “We are looking to technology to help us track students success. We want to improve course planning making it easier for students to plan their way to a degree and helping them keep on track using what we call Academic Alerts messages that would appear reminding students of what they need to take to finish quickly. We want to improve advising in general. One of our basic plans for the future is creating a list of the most frequently asked questions and making sure advisors are ready to answer them. We also want to improve work study and career services, we want potential students to see a viable future connected with a UMass degree.”

 Retention rates are very important for two reasons. It costs more to recruit new students then it does to retain old ones, the institution would be financially stronger if we had higher retention rates. It also is a matter of reputation. Since retention rates can be found on our website, low retention rates discourage potential students from enrolling at UMass Boston. The rates of retention among freshman in 2008 into their first semester as sophomores in 2009 was 77 percent.

 On a side note, town hall meetings will be held in the future with to discus many important campus matters. Input from students is welcomed and appreciated. If that isn’t enough to get you to their next meeting, consider the possibility of winning a pricy gift card in a raffle. 

About the Contributor
Jacob Aguiar served as the following positions for The Mass media the following years: News Editor: 2011-2012; Fall 2012 Leisure Editor: 2010-2011