Retention facilitated by better recruitment

On campus people are talking retention, but this weekend that conversation will shift to recruitment.

It might be wise to remember that these aren’t separate concepts.

The key component in raising retention on campus is, to a certain extent, focusing on current students, but there is a greater importance on focusing on prospective students. This responsibility lies on the university, but it also should weigh on prospective students.

The principle that would be most effective in retaining students comes from a conversation that has already been prevalent on campus. Baker University President Pat Long continues to talk of “transparency.”

Though she has focused this concept primarily on budget issues, it is very applicable to retention.

Part of retaining students is recruiting students who understand what it is they’re getting into.

Baker students who left the university cited a number of reasons for doing so. Among them are lack of certain academic programs, limited opportunities and a fairly dormant social life.

However, that doesn’t mean that all students aren’t suited for Baker University. That means that certain students’ needs and desires don’t correspond with what Baker has to offer.

This isn’t only an issue when students decide to stay at Baker. It should be a main issue in the decision to come to Baker. There needs to be an open conversation between prospective students and university faculty about the opportunities presented within a particular program.

If that can’t happen early, the loss of students is unavoidable later on.

Socially, you’d have to be pretty dense to think Baldwin City, Kan., offers the same social scene as New York, Kansas City or even Lawrence.

However, there are opportunities for social activity on, near and within driving distance of campus. But some people don’t want to be in a fraternity or sorority. Some people don’t want to hang out in the dorms. Some people don’t want to drive 15 minutes for something to do.

So as Baker Weekend happens, remember that as an institution, we don’t just want to host these students; we want to keep these students.